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Murder With All the Trimmings: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper by Elaine Viets
Review by Sherry Lilley
Signet Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451225481
Date: 04 November 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Christmas is coming, and Josie's life is humming along. However, when her daughter, Amelia, wants details about her father, life gets a little uncomfortable. Josie had told Amelia her father was dead. Isn't locked up in prison in Canada almost the same thing as dead? When Matt, Amelia's father, shows up on Josie's doorstep, unexpectedly, life gets even more uncomfortable.

Next, Josie is asked to mystery shop a Christmas store one of three on the same block. Ordinarily, mystery shopping a store is not a problem. But Josie's already been in store, and knows it has problems. One of the problems is that Josie has a connection to this store in a roundabout way. Josie is dating Mike. Mike's ex-girlfriend, Doreen, who is the mother of Mike's daughter, Heather, owns the store. And, Mike has put a chunk of money in the store as an investment. Then, people start dying including Matt. Josie's life is no longer humming along.

In addition to Matt, a woman who was in a weight loss contest at a local radio station died. The only thing they had in common was that they both ate a chocolate snowman from a Christmas store a competitor of Doreen's. The question is why were they killed? Was it to prevent the woman from winning the weight loss contest and collecting her money and Matt was collateral damage? Or was Matt the intended victim, and the woman collateral damage? Matt definitely had the kind of past that might lead to murder. After his death, some of his old acquaintances start coming around, asking Josie questions. Might one of them be the killer?

This series gets better with every book. The usual cast of characters is present and accounted for in this book. Josie's mom is there, as supportive, if critical, as ever. Josie's best friend Alyce is there, ready to render help and support. The nosy neighbor is there, and with a much bigger part in the book. All of the characters in the book are well-drawn and add to the story.

This is a wonderful holiday read especially when you need some down time from all the rushing and planning and shopping and just plain hustle and bustle of the holiday season. This is a book to be savored by a cozy fire with a good cup of hot chocolate.

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