Die Buying (Mall Cop)
by Laura DiSilverio
Cover Artist: Ben Perini
Review by Cathy Green
Berkley Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425242735
Date: 02 August 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Mall cop E.J. Ferris is starting another boring day at the Fernglen Galleria, when shrieks cut though the air. She motors over to the sound on her Segway to find one of the janitorial staff having hysterics due to the fact that a lizard has attached itself to his head. EJ rescues the janitor and the lizard and takes it back to the Herpetology Hut, where she finds out that animal activists have freed the store's entire stock. A boring day gets interesting pretty quickly. Hearing more shrieks, EJ assumes another reptile has been discovered, EJ motors over to the Diamanté boutique only to discover that there is a dead naked man in the store's window.
EJ secures the scene and calls in the police who arrive and instantly dismiss her as a mall security guard with dreams of grandeur. This infuriates EJ, who is a former MP who has only taken the job due to no police force being willing to take her on because of the shrapnel damage to her leg that she received while on patrol in Afghanistan. Frustrated and pissed off, EJ decides to investigate the matter herself, with the help of her grandfather, a former CIA operative.
DiSilverio does a nice job in the first few chapters of giving the reader a sense of who EJ and her co-workers are. We meet the obnoxious, officious Captain Woskowicz, the eager Joel, the lazy Billy Wedzel, aka "Weasel". We also get to know the various store owners and get a sense of what the daily routine of a mall cop is like, as EJ deals with complaints about breastfeeding women and cars being graffittied in the parking lot.
DiSilverio has created an interesting character in EJ. EJ loved being in the military and is incredibly frustrated by the limitations placed on her by her injuries. She is also determined not to let the injuries stop her from achieving her goals, almost to the point of unreasonable expectations for herself, as demonstrated by when she chases a suspect only to have her leg collapse, causing her to fall down a flight of stairs, yet she continues to apply to police department for jobs. We can also see the mixed image she has of herself, as she is determined to become a police officer, yet thinks of herself as permanently damaged in such a way that she is no longer desirable by the standards of either Los Angeles/Hollywood where she grew up, nor the military where she found a home based on her abilities and strengths. Absent her military background, EJ's attitude toward her job might put her dangerously close to "mall ninja" of internet fame territory, but given her background and her injuries, instead we have the portrait of a woman trying to make the best of a bad situation, taking seriously a job that is beneath her abilities and experience.
Die Buying's cover describes the book as the first in a new series, and it will be interesting to see where DiSilverio takes EJ Ferris in future books -- will she stay a mall cop, achieve her dream of becoming a civilian law enforcement officer or go in a completely different direction. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.