Board Stiff: A Dead-End Job Mystery
by Elaine Viets
Cover Artist: Tsukushi / Lott Representatives
Review by Sherry Lilley
NAL Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451239853
Date: 07 May 2013 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Helen no longer has to hide from deceased (or is he deceased?) ex-husband, but she is still taking dead-end jobs. Only now, she works them as an undercover agent for the detective agency she and her new husband, Phil Sagemont, run.
Their latest case, investigating who is trying to put Sunny Jim's Safety First Parasailing and Stand-Up Paddleboarding business, out of business, has Helen lying on the beach, basking in the sun, and playing at taking a "staycation" while Phil has taken the role of an employee for Sunny Jim. As a bonus, they get free paddleboarding lessons. But, their first day on the job, a woman rents a board and heads out to enjoy herself and dies. She didn't die intentionally, but did she die accidentally, or was she murdered? This is not good for Sunny Jim's business.
Too many people want to put Sunny Jim out of business. Is it Sunny Jim's competitor or the local restaurant owner who wants to turn Sunny Jim's spot into a parking lot doing all the damage, and perhaps committing murder? And what about Helen's dead ex-husband? If he's dead, who's blackmailing Helen and her sister?
As always, the questions are answered, the mystery solved, and the characters entertaining. Ms. Viets' books are always fun to read, and, for the most part, the solution to the mystery is not too obvious. The setting is wonderful, and while some of the series' usual characters are not present, Helen, Phil, and Margery have enough going on to carry the book. It seems only right that this book, set mostly at the beach, should be in your beach bag. It's good enough to earn the spot.