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Murder Between the Covers (Dead-End Job Mysteries, Book 2) Mass Market Paperback – December 2, 2003

37 customer reviews
Book 2 of 11 in the Dead-End Job Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews


"The second in the new series, Murder Between The Covers offers both a light mystery while delving into how society often views those who make minimum wage as invisible and powerless."
Oline Cogdill of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel

About the Author

Elaine Viets has actually worked those dead-end jobs in her mystery novels,just like her character, Helen Hawthorne. Over the years, Elaine has been a dress store clerk, phone book proofreader, babysitter, telemarketer, bookseller, and weed puller at fifty cents a bucket.  She is also the author of the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series and numerous short stories. Elaine has won an Anthony Award and an Agatha Award. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her husband, author and actor Don Crinklaw.  Please visit her blog: The Lipstick Chronicles.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (December 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451210816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451210814
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

How do you like your mysteries? Hardboiled, with a blood chaser? Warm and cozy? Or funny and traditional, with all the clues, and some good laughs? My four mystery series have something for every reader.

I started dark with the Francesca Vierling mysteries, set at a newspaper. My Dead-End Job mysteries are funny and traditional. The Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries are sweetly cozy.

Now I'm going back to the dark side. I'm starting a dark series featuring Death Investigator Angela Richman. Death investigators work for the medical examiner. They take charge of the body, photographing it, documenting the wounds, and more. The police investigate the rest of the crime scene.

Why return to this gritty world?

Because I like variety, and know you do, too. My first mystery series featured Francesca Vierling, a six-foot-tall St. Louis newspaper columnist. I wrote four hardboiled Francesca mysteries.

Tough, glamorous Francesca drives an '86 Jaguar. She investigates the murder of a transvestite in Backstab and the death of a RUB, a rich urban biker, in Rubout. In The Pink Flamingo Murders, Francesca looks into a murder that would horrify anyone fighting to improve a rundown city neighborhood: a ruthless gentrifier is stabbed with a pink plastic flamingo. Got her right in the heart with the bird's metal legs. In Doc in the Box, bad doctors get the deaths they deserve.

The Francesca series ended after four books, but readers still enjoy it. This May, a New Yorker with lymphoma told me she gave Doc in the Box to her oncologist as a gift - or a warning. (PS: The reader is making a remarkable recovery.)

After the hardboiled Francesca series, I worked dead-end jobs until my agent sold Shop Till You Drop, my first Dead-End Job mystery. This series features Helen Hawthorne, a St. Louis woman on the run in South Florida. Now I was back writing traditional mysteries, cheerfully slaughtering bad bosses and annoying customers.

Helen works a different low-paying job each novel, and I've worked most of them. In Shop Till You Drop, Helen sells bustiers to bimbos. Murder Between the Covers, set at a bookstore, is one of my favorite jobs. Helen and I worked as telemarketers for Dying to Call You. That was my worst job ever - I sold septic tank cleaner. In Just Murdered, Helen and I work in the bridal department of a posh store and survive attacks by crazed bridezillas. I loved working at an upscale dog boutique for Murder Unleashed. Helen and I were hotel housekeepers for Murder with Reservations. We learned hotel secrets, including never use a hotel coffee pot. Spend twenty bucks for room service coffee. You‛ll thank me.

For Clubbed to Death, Helen and I were in "customer care" at a snooty country club whose motto was "Do you know who I am?"

Killer Cuts takes place at a hair salon where a color and cut are $300. Half-Price Homicide is set at a consignment shop where trophy wives sell their designer duds. It‛s the only way they can get cash from their controlling husbands.

In Pumped for Murder, Helen's tenth adventure, she opens a private eye agency, Coronado Investigations. That opens new possibilities to keep the series fresh. Helen still works those low-paying jobs, only now she goes undercover as a PI.

Final Sail, set aboard a 143-foot yacht, gives a crew's eye view of floating luxury. Board Stiff is the ultimate beach book set in the cutthroat world of beach concessions, including paddleboarding.

Catnapped! was fun to write, but poor Helen goes undercover in the world of cat shows and learns how to wash a long-haired cat. (You start with Goop. Seriously.) Checked Out is a library lover‛s dream. Helen and I volunteered at our local library.

Once the Dead-End Job series was launched, Penguin asked me to write a cozy series featuring a mystery shopper, Josie Marcus. My mother was a mystery shopper, so I was born to write this series. Besides, it would only be for three books.

Josie happily mystery-shops everything from handbags (Dying in Style) to lingerie (An Uplifting Murder). Then I turned in A Dog Gone Murder, where Josie mystery-shops dog day care. Think your pup is romping on the grassy green lawns you see on the Website? Josie says you should tour the day care center in person.

With A Dog Gone Murder, I realized my three-book series was now ten books.

I enjoyed writing all those mysteries, but I missed the dark side. Even cozies aren‛t all kittens and cupcakes. Miss Marple, the fluffy knitter who declared "I am Nemesis," relentlessly brought killers to justice.

But I was thirsting for blood. And hardheaded forensics. To return to the dark side, I took the MedicoLegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals, given by St. Louis University's School of Medicine.

The intense training gave me the latest forensic information. Look at the agenda for one morning, taught by medical examiners and pathologists:

Gunshot wound fatalities, explosion-related deaths, motor vehicle fatalities and drowning. At lunch we watched a teen driving and alcohol video

After lunch was alcohol-related deaths, suicide, blunt-trauma fatalities and more.

I didn‛t want to write a dark series with the same old protagonists: the retired cop learning to live with his heart-wrenching divorce or the private eye who drinks to kill "the big hurt." Other writers have done those novels, and done them well.

Angela Richman is one of a kind. Janet Rudolph, head of Mystery Readers International, says she believes there are no other series featuring death investigators.

Angela lives in mythical Chouteau County, just west of St. Louis. The rich live in the town of Chouteau Forest, a bastion of old money. The workers live in Toonerville. But death doesn‛t discriminate between the rich and the poor. Angela works cases for the super-wealthy as well as the poor. She believes the dead can talk, and it‛s her job to examine, photograph and document their bodies, so they can tell her when and how they died. The Angela Richman series is dark, but it's not as gruesome as Patricia Cornwell‛s novels. It's closer to Kathy Reich's Tempe Brennan mysteries.

Brain Storm, the first Angela Richman mystery, will be published by Thomas & Mercer in late summer, 2016. The second will be out in 2017.

And my 15th Dead-End Job mystery, The Art of Murder, set at a quirky South Florida museum, will be published in May 2016. It‛s available for pre-order now as a hardcover and an e-book.

I like writing about Helen Hawthorne's lighthearted adventures in South Florida, as well as Angela Richman‛s visits to the dark side.

I enjoy the best of both worlds: Light and dark. I hope you will, too.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Stephens VINE VOICE on June 24, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Helen takes a job in a bookstore. Life seems to be settling into a routine. She has a cozy home, an interesting job, a boyfriend, and friends at her apartment complex.

That all changes when her apartment is swarmed by termites, her boss is murdered, her boyfriend turns into a jerk, and her good friend is arrested.

Helen and her landlady systematically investigate until they find the killer.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Dowdle VINE VOICE on May 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Once again Helen is working a dead-end job that allows her to be paid in cash under the table. She is hiding out from the law and her ex-husband.

This time she's working at Page Turners Bookstore. With her love of books, she thought this would be the perfect job. Wrong. Not only is the caliber of customers low, but her boss, Page Turner III, is the pits. Plus the stores appear to be on a downward spiral.

Her apartment complex, The Coronado Tropic Apartments, become infested with termites. The residents are all forced to move out for the weekend while the complex is tented and bombed.

Her landlady treats Helen to an enjoyable weekend at the beach. Her new boyfriend, Dr. Rich, comes to spend it with her.

But, when they return to the Coronado, they find Page Turner III dead with a knife in his back, on a bed in one of the apartments. How could this happen? Did anyone at the Coronado even know him? Plus, the apartments had been locked down and tented.

Suspects are not is short supply. Helen's friend Peggy is arrested. Apparently she had been engaged to Page some time before and had threatened him. Helen investigates to help get Peggy released. She feels Peggy knows something but won't tell her. Could it have been his wife, one of the female authors he took advantage of, or one of Helen's co-workers?

I really enjoy this series. Helen is a lot of fun, and the characters she works and lives with always add to the story. Fort Lauderdale is a terrific setting, too. There are plenty of twists and turns before the killer is revealed so that it is not easy to figure out who the killer is.

This series is a great cozy series. I highly recommend it.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mark Baker - Carstairs Considers HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 26, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Helen Hawthorne has landed another under the radar job. This time she's working at Page Turners book store. The job isn't as nice as she thought it would be, but she puts up with her womanizing boss, Page Turner III, because he's will to pay in cash. Now, if only the rumors of the chain closing would go away, Helen might be able to relax.

When her apartment is infested with termites, she doesn't mind the weekend at the beach with new boyfriend Dr. Rich. But Helen returns to find Page Turner III dead in neighbor Peggy's bed. There is no shortage of suspects, but the police center in on Peggy, soon arresting her. Helen knows her friend couldn't have committed the murder, so she starts her own investigation. The more she investigates, the more motive she uncovers for Peggy. Can she find another motive and free her friend?

I still have very mixed emotions about this series. On one hand, I find Helen's plight down right depressing. And, frankly, I also find it rather hard to believe she would let herself stay in the predicament for very long. Furthermore, there seems to be a real anti-male theme going in this series, which rankles me. On the other hand, I had a hard time putting the book down and was completely drawn into the mystery. I was proud of myself for figuring out the killer before Helen even if I missed the clues along the way, so obviously I cared about the outcome.

This series is advertised as a humorous series, but I don't get the black humor. I'm compelled enough that I'll probably move on to the third when it comes out. Helen may be depressing, but I can't seem to stay away from her adventures.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Helen Hawthorne is on the lam, from the law and her ex-husband.
To avoid detection, she only takes jobs where she can get paid under the table in cash.
She's been on her new job at the Ft. Lauderdale Page Turners Book Store for several months now, and although she had always thought working in a book store would be a wonderful job, she's been disappointed. Not only with the customers, but her pig of a boss Page Turner III.
Then disaster strikes her apartment complex. The Coronado Tropic Apartments are infested with termites and Helen and her neighbors are forced to move out for the weekend while the complex is tented and bombed.
The weekend at the beach, spent partly with her new boyfriend, Dr. Rich ends badly when after returning to the Coronado, Page Turner III is found with a huge knife in his back, on the bed in one of the apartments.
How did Page Turner die, and how did he end up in an apartment that was locked down and tented for termite extermination?
There are no lack of suspects, but when Helen's friend Peggy is arrested for the crime, (she had previously been engaged to him, and had threatened to kill him when she read he was engaged to another woman in the newspaper).
Helen is shocked, she didn't even know Peggy knew Page Turner, let alone would have ever gone out with him. But when the cops close the case, it's up to Helen and her landlady, Margery to find out who the killer is.
Was it his wife, jealous of his consant womanizing? Or the female authors who were all promised book signings for their Vanity Press books, if they spent some time in Page's office. And what about the rumors that Page videotaped himself with all of these women, and what other things might he have video taped?
And then there's another murder.
Read more ›
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