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on September 3, 2003
Having firmly transplanted her roots from Saint Louis to Florida, Elaine Viets has taken leave (hopefully only temporarily) of her sleuthing Saint Louis journalist Francesca Vierling series and introduced a new Florida based heroine, Helen Hawthorne.
Helen is on the lam in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from something that involved a cheating husband and a crowbar back in Saint Louis. Being a fugitive in Florida means abandoning successful executive position with six figure salary and all the benefits for a series of on your feet for eight hours dead-end jobs that provide a no questions asked cash (but barely minimum wage) salary. Currently this means Helen is serving as a sales associate behind the "green door" of Juliana's the ultra-chic clothing boutique for the hopelessly anorexic and surgically augmented young ladies of the Florida party circuit. This also means living at the less than exclusive Coronado Apartments which, while lacking the pink flamingos of Saint Louis, is abundantly filled with quirky and fun residents.
All is going adequately until Helen begins to suspect her manager is pushing designer drugs in addition to designer clothes and embezzling money from the store as well. Then murder enters the picture! And since the police consider her a suspect, Helen realizes that she's going to have the find the murderer herself. And then there's that new gymbot fire inspector living in her apartment complex.
Elaine Viets has a way with creating totally believable characters and putting them in situations that guarantee a good mystery and a lot of laughs. SHOP TILL YOU DROP is a brilliant start for a great new series, and Helen Hawthorne is a welcome addition to the world of fugitive fiction who should have a long run. That is, unless the powers that be in Saint Louis track her down in one of her dead-end jobs in Florida. This one gave me a lot of enjoyment, and I highly recommend it!
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on June 3, 2003
Elaine Viets is a very funny writer who doesn't let humor overpower the story or characters. She has that slant on life that allows the ordinary make the reader laugh and the outrageous behavior send us into stitches. But she also lets us see the emptiness of those ladies who think they can never be too thin or too rich. Their goal is to get a wealthy man even if it means resorting to, often dangerous, cosmetic surgery and diet plans.
The "Dead End Job" series features Helen who flees St. Louis and goes into hiding after a particularly nasty confrontation with her sleazeball of a parasitic husband. She is ordered to pay him half of her 6 figure salary. Instead she changes her name and goes to Fort Lauderdale with a smallish nest egg and a search for jobs that don't require such things as SS numbers and will pay cash.
Her job at an exclusive dress shop (the manager keeps the door locked and only lets those in whom she deems worthy) is the first thing she can land.
Helen has her suspicions about blackmail and drug sales. When the manager disappears it seems that Juliana's is handling more than expensive clothes for the ultra rich.
South Florida and its inhabitants are a big part of the plot.
SHOP TILL YOU DROP is amusing, touching and current. Highly recommended and would make a great gift for any friends who are shopaholics or like to read a good book that has some real meat beneath the light surface.
I will be eagerly awaiting the second in the series in which Helen gets a job at a chain bookstore.
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on June 2, 2003
Elaine Viets' new mystery series, Dead End Jobs, (haven't we all suffered through them?) delivers a witty, smart debut with SHOP TILL YOU DROP.
Helen Hawthorne, once quite successful, is forced to lay low, changing cities and jobs as quickly as she used to change her desinger shoes.
Her new profession , salesclerk in a chi chi Florida boutique whose green door keeps out lowlife Sears Robuck rejects, forces her to do more than cater to collagen frozen faces. Underneath the fashionable facade, a nefarious manager has embezzled bucks, and when a murder occurs, Helen must find the perpetrator before her past catches up with her.
A six toed cat, a real character of a landlady, and very cheap wine bought by the case, comfort Helen as she works to solve the crime.
I can't recommend this fresh, funny, fabulous mystery enough! Fans of Janet Evanovich, Jerrilyn Farmer and Gillian Roberts will delight in this new series. All the rest of you will be thrilled to find Elaine Viets and Helen Hawthorne, and like me, wish Helen would change jobs as quickly as possible-we need more Dead End Jobs!
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on May 14, 2003
After hearing the judge's ruling in a St. Louis Courtroom, Helen Hawthorne goes on the run, leaving a job that pays six figures annum and her family and friends behind. She ends up in Fort Lauderdale working in sales in the exclusive female clothes store Juliana's, earning minimum wage off the books. The clientele consists of trophy wives and men's mistresses who have nothing better to do than shop until they drop. After two weeks on the job, Helen comes to believe that her boss is skimming money, selling illegal drugs, arranging for illegal plastic surgery and hiring a hit man for a customer.
Before Helen can decide what to do about what she thinks is going on, Christina takes off on a vacation and never comes back. Her body is found in a barrel floating in the ocean and Helen soon has proof that her former boss was blackmailing five customers and her ex-boyfriend. When Helen tries to solve the crime and collect the reward money, the killer decides to make Helen the second victim.
The first Dead-End Jobs mystery is such a smashing success it will provide long-term job security for Elaine Viets. The tale contains wit, local color and a cast of secondary characters that is eccentric and funny. The heroine is a delightful mix of grit; determination and stubbornness, which is why she goes from one deadly encounter to another. She doesn't know the meaning of the word quit and she hounds all the suspects until one of them finally makes a move on her. Elaine Viets' SHOP TILL YOU DROP is electrifying.
Harriet Klausner
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on May 31, 2003
Shop Till you Drop by Elaine Viets is her best mystery so far and she's written some good ones.
It can't be easy to write a WITTY mystery, but Viets manages to add humour without letting it slide into slapstick.
This one had me interested all the way through. I didn't guess the plot ahead of time and I often do as I am addicted to mysteries and frequently quit because the plot is so obvious. This book kept me facinated with intricate twists and turns.
The Characters are what really enhanced the book, they had depth and realism - I CARED about what was happening to Helen and the rest of the people.
It is a relief to read something that has normal, struggling people as main characters instead of a fake New York or San Frisco Glamourous lifestyle. It had a great South Florida locale.
The last page suggests Helen's next job and Viet's next book, I hope. I can't wait to read more adventures of Helen.
This is a warm, witty book, I can recommend without reservation!
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on May 26, 2003
of shopping in a snooty, upscale Boutique and watching CSI.
The main character, Helen has traded a lavish lifestyle to working in a clothing Boutique named Juliana's in Florida for minimum wage. The door always stays locked and is only opened for the rich and beautiful.
Helen discovers that Christina (Juliana's Manager) has a special relationship with each customer. She refers the best plastic surgeons, knows how to immigrant housekeepers and the perfect hit man.
Things turn sour when Christina is found floating in a barrel in the bay. Her customers are mournful, but more desperate to retrieve their secrets that Christina was holding. It's up to Helen to solve the mystery.
I knew that this would be a great read when I saw that Jane Heller called this book, "Irrestible, a heroin with a sense of humor and a gift for snappy dialogue" since Heller is one of my favorite authors.
If you like Heller's collection, you will love Shop till You Drop.
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on December 11, 2003
A terribly dull, disappointing plot with a main character who doesn't seem very bright. Why is she on the run when a good lawyer could solve her problems back home very simply? Why does she make silly decisions when she knows she's in danger? The ending was also flat and unsuspenseful.
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on June 3, 2003
WOW - what a wonderfully enjoyable read. I am a huge fan of Elaine Viet's other series, featuring Francesca Vierling and I'm so glad to have another wonderful characterization to add to my list of favorites. Elaine has captured South Florida perfectly. Helen Hawthorne is very original and the secondary characters are a hoot and a half. And what a great hook - dead-end jobs - something many of us can relate to. This book has a wonderful edge but is still very funny. The opening line grabs you and holds on tight until the very end. Highly recommended
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on October 28, 2003
Although I read SHOP TILL YOU DROP a while ago, I find myself still recommending it to my friends and being able to vividly remember the book. Just like DOC IN THE BOX and other Viets' treasures, her books stay with me unlike so many others that are read and quickly forgotten.
I love this new series and look forward to the next. You can count on Elaine Viets to provide not just entertainment, witty as it may be, but also insights and interesting information to make you think.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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on June 3, 2003
As a longtime fan of Elaine Viets, any new book is a cause for rejoicing. Shop TIl You Drop, the first entry in her Dead End Jobs series, is classic Viets. Witty, well observed and right on target. Helen, on the lam from an alimony sucking ex-husband finds herself in Florida, a shopgirl waiting on the mistresses and trophy wives of some very noveau, very dubious men. When murder ensues, Viet's trademark mayhem and merriment ensue. This series, with lots of great characters and a steamy Florida background, promises to be a real winner. More! More!
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