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Murder with All the Trimmings: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper Mass Market Paperback – November 4, 2008
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"Viets spans the female psyche with panache and wit."
"Effectively portrays a single mom earnestly navigating her way in today's uncertain world."
"Laugh-out-loud comedic murder mystery guaranteed to keep you entertained for any number of hours--the perfect read for a rainy day."
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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Josie Marcus is a loveable protaganist as a single mom and amateur sleuth and the recurring cast of characters is what holds the wonderful series together. In this book, Josie is soured on Christmas because she feels that she has been looking at holiday decorations since Labor Day, but when she is ordered to mystery shop two of the three holiday stores that have cropped up or lose her job, she does what any good mystery shopper would do, sucks it up, hopes for the best and brings a witness. The second shop is owned by her current boyfriend's rather colorful ex who would be more at home in a Halloween store than a Christmas shop. The experience is exactly what Josie expects and she writes an honest report, which as expected complicates everything. Viets doesn't stop there, she adds Josie's daughter's father into the mix who has recently been released from Canadian prison, where he has been serving a sentence for drug dealing.
What I love about the book, besides that it's Christmas-y, is that even though there are several complex issues being addressed, it never gets messy that it feels like Viets forgets what she's doing and the plot never bogs down. The end of the book is wrapped up like a tidy Christmas package and leaves me waiting eagerly for the next book in series, just as it should. If you're a fan of the mystery shopper series, you definitely want to add this to your collection and if you're just starting, I suggest you begin with the first book in the series and I promise you'll be clamoring for this one.
Unfortunately, Josie's ex husband , who had been in jail in Canada, shows up drunk on her doorstep. Even more unfortunately, Josie had preferred to tell her daughter that her father was dead, rather than telling her the truth that he was a jailed drug dealer. Obviously, this alienated Josie's nine-year-old daughter who acted out much as any one of us might have and Josie apparently did when she was young. (As outsiders we can see Josie turning into her mother, as any of us would.)
The mystery is almost incidental to the interaction of the characters. This interaction is perfectly real and absolutely terrific. If you don't see either yourself or people you know in these characters, you should get out more. The mystery itself is less realistic which is why the book only gets 4 stars. It is definitely a good read. I like this series.