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on July 12, 2000
Her father cheated on her mother usually with someone they knew. Finally, her mother could not take anymore. She murdered him and killed herself. Their daughter, St. Louis Gazette columnist Francesca Vierlong, is afraid of marriage. When her boyfriend Lyle proposes, she turns him down even though she loves him. To keep the pain of losing him at bay, she buries herself at work by covering two stories at the same time. One story involves a missing stripper while the other concerns a serial killer.

Francesca profiles the Heart Desire's Night Club gorgeous stripper Jack "Leo Ds Nardo" Hegenbaum for one of her columns. To her surprise, Francesca has a good time feasting her eyes on the stud muffin. When she calls him to ask a few remaining questions, she learns he has vanished. The last person to apparently have seen Jack was a homeless elderly lady. While she cannot help Jack, Francesca begins an active search to uncover the identity of the DOC IN THE BOX KILLER. In spite of her frantic activity, Francesca cannot remove Lyle from her heart.

The charm behind this novel is the heroine's inquiries into her two opposite type cases. One is a bit of fluff while the other is a deadly criminal investigative piece. Both share the need for Francesca to bury her aching heart. Although the quality of her previous works is quite high, Elaine Viets seems to improve as a writer who can create a unique, effervescent synergy that freshens up the amateur sleuth mystery genre.

Harriet Klausner
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on October 15, 2000
I don't know St. Louis, but Elaine sure does. She took me on the 'Grand Tour' through her books. She knows St. Louis like Laura Lippman knows Baltimore. I have lived in Detroit and Baltimore; and can really relate to the neighborhoods of St. Louis that Ms. Viets describes so well. Combine that with a good mystery with well developed plot lines and realistic characters and ya got a fantastic page-turning read. Highly recommended. ENJOY!
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VINE VOICEon November 26, 2004
Francesca Vierling, columnist for the St. Louis City Gazette is on a hot story again. She's at the Hearts Desire Strip Club, doing "A Day In The Life Of A Stripper."

Since her idiot boss, Charlie didn't specifically say what kind of stripper she was to follow around, Francesca has chosen Jack Hogenbaum, AKA Leo D. Nardo - Your Titanic Lover.

Francesca finds she really likes Jack, who's thirty and only wants to get married and become a house husband, taking care of the home and children for his wife. So she is startled to find out that Jack has disappeared and that she was actually one of the last people to see him alive, talking to an grey haired lady in the parking lot after work.

But this story isn't as important as Georgia, her mentor at the paper. Georgia has been diagnosed with breast cancer and Francesca is taking her to and from her doctor's and chemo appointments. Georgia doesn't want anyone to know about the cancer, since people tend to steal all your stuff and take over your desk at the paper if they even suspect you're ill.

Francesca had settled Georgia into the waiting room at the hospital while she goes to make a call to see if the missing Jack has show up. She's stunned when she gets back to find the receptionist shot dead at her desk and a therapist and Dr. Brentmoor shot dead in one of the rooms. Unbelievably, Georgia is still alive, hiding in the waiting room. She didn't see anything, just heard the shots and never got a good look at the killer.

Over the next few weeks, more doctors are killed and Francesca starts investigating. What is common thread between these people. Her first thoughts, that they were killed because they were rude and obnoxious to the patients was wrong, when Dr. Jolley (who was a nice as his name) turns up dead.

Francesca is determined to find out who is killing these people and find out what happened to Jack, who she is also sure is dead.


The mystery. This is the best one so far.

Leo D. Nardo, the stripper and Officer Friendly who he shares a dressing room with. They are both nice guys and Leo is sincere in his wish to be a house husband and Officer Friendly, has a secret that would ruin his career if it came out.

Francesca's friends, Georgia, who for the first time in this series does more than just tell her to shut up and don't make waves at the paper. Cut-Up Katie the medical examiner who has been entertaining throughout this series and of course, Marlene, the waitress at Uncle Bob's Pancake House.

Once again, humor runs through this book, which can be very difficult when you're dealing with cancer and death.

For the first time, Francesca actually solves the crime.


Francesca hasn't seen Lyle since their breakup in the last book. Why no one has suggested therapy to this woman is beyond me.

The staff at the paper.

Overall a very good entry in this series. Makes me look forward to the next one.
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on July 20, 2000
When you live in St. Louis and share Ms. Viets's fascination with the South Side, naturally you are immeditely drawn to her Francesca Vierling novels. But just as I started thinking all of her books would be uniform, along came the pleasant surprise of Doc-in-the-Box. This book is great entertainment, and manages to make a statement about American health care at the same time. Anyone who has been through an illness or has helped someone through it will definitely see themselves here. She has such a grasp on that, and of course on St. Louis, and I am always expecting to run into Francesca at Hampton Village.
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on October 8, 2000
What a delightful read. I don't fancy myself a huge mystery fan. But, this book is a cleverly written, highly entertaining look at a pretty serious subject... medical malpractice and inattention to the terminally ill. Viets makes you feel right at home where SHE is obviously most at home... in St. Louis. I couldn't put this book down. Viets weaves a compelling plot that takes you down tangents... just to get you thinking. I thoroughly enjoyed Doc in the Box and can't wait to read the others in the series.
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on May 4, 2015
If you dislike physicians as a class this is Elaine Viets' book for you. If you are from St. Louis, Missouri or one of its 100-odd suburbs (as is this reviewer) you'll likely enjoy it even more. The story is set there.

The book's theme is bad medical treatment by arrogant, careless physicians and their eventual come-uppances therefrom. All of Viets' murder mysteries that I have read so far are light, humorous and enjoyable as is this one. If you are not familiar with the authoress' background she was a newspaper columnist in St. Louis, and a good one at that. This book's principal character is the fictional Francesca Vierling, a newspaper-woman in St. Louis.

A reader does not have to dislike physicians, nor does one have to be a native of Greater St. Louis in order to appreciate the story. The setting is merely a bonus to St. Louis readers. I was mildly dissatisfied with the book's mushy ending but please don't allow this to be off-putting. <Doc in the Box's> many good , funny points more than make up for its ending; and you probably won't agree with my feeling about it anyway.
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on January 19, 2014
This wad an okay story to read on a cold weekend.It wasn't a great story,but it kept my interest somewhat.The story revolves around a reporter for s second rate newspaper in St.Louis who needs a great story to up her career.She finds it in the serial murders of several doctors and staff associated with the treatment of cancer patients.Sh gets to work trying to solve and stop more doctors' murders when she is targeted by the unknown murderer.To save doctors,herself,and her dead ended career,she must stop the killer.Did the doctor's terrible bedside manner cause his demise?Read the book and find out.
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on November 3, 2015
This series features a likeable protagonist and the book is up to Viets' usual high standards.
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on August 27, 2015
I have lkiked Elaine Viets for a long time.
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on February 2, 2016
It's a good book.
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