Praise for Elaine Viets’s Dead-End Job mysteries

Dying to Call You

“Viets writes laugh-out-loud comedy with enough twists and turns to make it to the top of the mystery best- seller charts.”

—Florida Today

“Stars one of the most lively, audacious, and entertaining heroines to grace an amateur sleuth tale.”

—Harriet Klausner

“A fun read with a top-notch heroine.”

—Mystery News

Murder Between the Covers

“Wry sense of humor, appealing, realistic characters, and a briskly moving plot.”

—South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Shop Till You Drop

“Elaine Viets has come up with all the ingredients for an irresistible mystery . . . I’m looking forward to the next installment in her new Dead-End Job series.”

—Jane Heller, national bestselling author of Best Enemies

“Elaine Viets’s debut is a live wire. It’s Janet Evanovich meets The Fugitive as Helen Hawthorne takes Florida by storm. Shop no further—this is the one.”

—Tim Dorsey, author of Torpedo Juice

“I loved this book. Six-toed cats, expensive clothes, sexy guys on motorcycles—this book has it all.”

—Charlaine Harris, author of Dead as a Doornail and Shakespeare’s Counselor

“Fresh, funny, and fiendishly constructed. . . . Attractive newcomer Helen Hawthorne takes on the first of her deliciously awful dead-end jobs and finds herself enmeshed in drugs, embezzlement, and murder. A bright start to an exciting new series. This one is hard to beat.”

—Parnell Hall, author of The Puzzle Lady crossword puzzle mysteries

For Zola Keller, who knows the bridal business from A to Z


Special thanks to Zola Keller and her staff at Zola Keller, 818 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale. Millicent’s Bridal Salon in my book resembles Zola Keller’s shop in no way except one—Zola and Millicent know and love the bridal business. Oh, yes, they also get customers in Rolls Royces. Thanks also to Zola’s veteran saleswoman, Sandy Blagman, who should write her own book.

Thanks to Scott Jueckstock, Bravissimo Event Orchestration, 2212 S.E. 17th Street Causeway, Fort Lauderdale.

Once again, I want to thank my husband, Don Crinklaw, who believes for better or worse includes proof- reading and three a.m. questions.

Thanks to my agent, David Hendin, who always takes my calls.

Special thanks to Kara Cesare, one of the last of the real editors, to her assistant, Rose Hilliard, and to the Signet copy editing and production staff.

Many people helped with this book. I hope I didn’t leave anyone out.

Particular thanks to Detective RC White, Fort Lauderdale Police Department (retired), who patiently answered my questions on weapons, police interrogations, and emergency procedures. Thanks also to Rick McMahan, ATF Special Agent, and to Anthony-award winning author and former police detective Robin Bur-cell. Any mistakes are mine, not theirs.

Thanks to Joanne Sinchuk and John Spera at South Florida’s largest mystery bookstore, Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, Florida.

Thanks also to Susan Carlson, Valerie Cannata, Colby Cox, Jinny Gender, Karen Grace, Kay Gordy, and Janet Smith.

Rita Scott does indeed make cat toys packed with the most powerful catnip in kittendom. They have sent my cats into frenzies of ecstasy. Read all about them at

Thanks to the librarians at the Broward County Library and the St. Louis Public Library who researched my questions, no matter how strange, and always answered with a straight face.

Thanks also to public relations expert Jack Klobnak, and to my bookseller friend, Carole Wantz, who can sell sand in the Mojave Desert.

Special thanks to librarian Anne Watts, who let me borrow her six-toed cat, Thumbs, for this series. Check out his picture on my Web site at .

Chapter 1

“Uh-oh, here comes trouble,” Millicent said.

If this was trouble, Helen Hawthorne wished she had it. A Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud pulled up in front of Millicent’s Bridal Salon on Las Olas Boulevard.

This was a vintage Rolls, the car of new movie stars and old money. Its long, sculpted curves were the color of well-polished family silver. The shiny new Porsches, Beemers, and Ferraris on the fashionable Fort Lauderdale street looked like cheap toys next to it.

The driver’s door opened with an expensive thunk! Out stepped a chauffeur in a uniform tailored to show off his broad shoulders and long legs. His pants hugged the best buns beyond the Gran Forno bakery. His hint of a beard would feel deliciously rough on bare skin.

The chauffeur jogged to the rear passenger door with an athlete’s grace.

“Baby, you can drive my car,” Helen said.

“Sorry, sweetie, Rod’s taken,” Millicent said, “and it’s battle stations. They have an appointment here.”

The chauffeur opened the door, and Helen saw a candy-pink spike heel like something from Barbie’s dream closet pop out. Was the woman wearing a size-four shoe? Did they make shoes in a size four? Helen was six feet tall and didn’t know much about petite people wear.

The woman barely reached five feet. She had on a sleeveless pink dress with a flirty pleated skirt.

“Oh, my God,” Helen said as the woman slid out of the car. “She’s not wearing any panties.”

“Typical,” Millicent said. “How can Kiki spend so much money and look so cheap? That dress cost two thousand dollars and it’s suitable for a child of fourteen.”

“On a woman of forty,” Helen said.

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