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Half-Price Homicide (Dead-End Job Series #9)

Half-Price Homicide (Dead-End Job Series #9)

4.0 19
by Elaine Viets

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At the high-end designer consignment shop Snapdragon, Helen Hawthorne must cater to the whims of snobby-yet-frugal customers like Chrissy, who comes in to sell a purse and ends up causing a scene. But when Chrissy is found dead in a dressing room with a hand-painted scarf around her neck, Helen goes from being low on society's totem pole to high on the police's


At the high-end designer consignment shop Snapdragon, Helen Hawthorne must cater to the whims of snobby-yet-frugal customers like Chrissy, who comes in to sell a purse and ends up causing a scene. But when Chrissy is found dead in a dressing room with a hand-painted scarf around her neck, Helen goes from being low on society's totem pole to high on the police's suspect list.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Nine books into the series, Viets is still working clever variations on the theme of an emancipated woman making the most of her limited options. To fulfill the genre conventions, a real-estate developer's trophy wife is murdered in a dressing room. The real draw, though, is Viets's snappy critique of South Florida, especially her acid-etched sketches of the shop's clientele.
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
Still another murder can't be good news for a consignment-shop clerk who's trying to keep a low profile since fleeing an unjust divorce settlement. Florida seemed like just the place for CPA Helen Hawthorn to bury herself in a series of dead-end jobs with salaries that might fly under the IRS's formidable radar. So when a Missouri judge awarded her ex-husband Rob half her future earnings, Helen (Murder with Reservations, 2007, etc.) chucked her well-paying job and headed south. Now she works for Vera Salinda at Snapdragon's Second Thoughts, where Palm Beach's elite bring their size-two castoffs to be sold at a hefty markdown. Chrissy Martlet is haggling with Vera over a pony-hair Prada purse when her developer husband Danny shows up. Pretty soon Chrissy is hanging by a designer scarf in a dressing room. Helen wants to look into Chrissy's murder, if only to save Vera from harassment by police detective Richard McNally, but gets sidetracked by her mother's death from complications of a stroke. A trip back to St. Louis to bury her mom strikes her fiance Phil as the perfect opportunity for Helen to put herself right with the law. In spite of her stepfather Larry's penny-pinching, Helen and her sister Kathy give their mother a fitting sendoff, though it's interrupted by an unexpected visit. Then Helen and Phil head back to Florida, where the unsolved murder case is the only obstacle to their nuptials. Helen's ninth is oddly shaped, with a unnecessary twist that defies logic.
Publishers Weekly
A posh Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resale shop provides the snazzy scene of the crime in Viets's superior ninth mystery starring Helen Hawthorne, the queen of dead-end jobs and magnet for murder (after 2009's Killer Cuts). Helen and Vera Salinda, the owner of Snapdragon's Second Thoughts, are shocked when Chrissy Martlet, a wealthy developer's sexy trophy wife, is found fatally bonked on the head with a Limoges pineapple, then hung with a Gucci scarf after trying to sell Vera some of her designer goods. Identifying Chrissy's killer as well as the culprit who bashes in the head of a model friend with a beer bottle tests Helen's sleuthing abilities to the limit. A teasing plot twist serves up a reminder that even if her greedy ex-husband, Rob, might finally stop pestering her and better jobs appear, there are still mountains to climb before Helen can rest easy with Phil, her PI honey. Viets doesn't waste a word in this tight, fast-paced installment as she deftly balances comedy and tragedy. (May)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Dead-End Job Series , #9
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Elaine Viets has actually worked those dead-end jobs in her mystery novels,just like her character, Helen Hawthorne. Over the years, Elaine has been a dress store clerk, phone book proofreader, babysitter, telemarketer, bookseller, and weed puller at fifty cents a bucket.  She is also the author of the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series and numerous short stories. Elaine has won an Anthony Award and an Agatha Award. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her husband, author and actor Don Crinklaw.  Please visit her blog: The Lipstick Chronicles.

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Half-Price Homicide 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Versel More than 1 year ago
Talk about being embarrassed--after raving about "Killer Cuts" and how Viets' series (both of them) just keep getting better and better, I pick up "Half Price Homicide" and wish I could take it all back. In what is obviously a transition book, Helen Hawthorne wraps up just about every loose end from the previous books: her St Louis legal problems, romance problems, mother problem, and job problems and develops a pretty unbelievable ex-husband problem. The mystery isn't very good, Helen and her sister (in addition to making some very bad choices) let their mother's husband run all over them. Frankly, this book was just bad. I haven't read the next when Helen's life has totally changed (we even know her real name now) and I'm not sure I will. Oh, Elaine, you have SOOOO let me down.
harstan More than 1 year ago
When the judge awarded Rob half his wife's earnings for life, Helen Hawthorne refuses to pay this outrageous alimony. She leaves her affluent home in St. Louis and goes on the run until she reaches Fort Lauderdale where she works at a series of dead end jobs. Helen also meets her fiancé private investigator Phil at the apartment complex they both live in. Phil wants to marry her, but before they can Helen must return to St. Louis to fix her legal and financial liabilities. Meanwhile she works at Snapdragon, a high class consignment shop. One of the repeat customers Chrissy comes in with a purse to sell, but her husband follows her to the shop. They end up in a shouting match; broken up by the store owner. Chrissy enters a dressing room to try on a dress. When the proprietor enters to see how it looks on her, Chrissy is dead. Helen knows the woman was murdered as there is blood on a décor pineapple. When she returns from St. Louis, she is shocked that her employer has lost so many customers and considers closing the shop. With Phil's help, Helen investigates the homicide hoping to find the killer and keep the store open. The Dead-End Job mysteries (see Killer Cuts) are always fun to read due to the heroine but Half-Price Homicide is especially a delight as long story arcs are completed and new ones begin; making this a must for series fans. Meanwhile Rob tries to blackmail his ex wife, but she refuses knowing she will return to St. Louis to end the legal travesty. Her time in Missouri is interesting while her sleuthing in Florida is clever as both subplots blend together smoothly in a fascinating major move forward for Helen. Harriet Klausner
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Dollycas More than 1 year ago
A Dead End Job Mystery This is the ninth story in this series and I have enjoyed every one. This time Helen is working at a high class consignment shoppe at the beck and call of some pretty snobby customers. Rich women can buy anything they want with their pricey store charges, so they buy the clothes and purses from the stores and then resell them at the consignment shoppe at a fraction of the price just so they have spending money, because their husbands won't give them a dime for themselves. The owner Vera has to make sure the customer who buys the items doesn't run in the same circles as the client who sold it. It is a stressful job, but Vera loves it. One of the husbands figures out the scheme and catches his wife in the act of selling her pony hair purse, and a huge argument is played out in front of many customers, Vera and Helen. The husband leaves the store as do most of the customers, but his wife doesn't, she is found dead in the dressing room. Helen again finds herself on yet another suspect list. Meanwhile, Helen's mother passes away and she must make the arrangements to get her mother home and her fiance Phil talks her into handling her legal woes when she returns home for the funeral, which is no easy task, as her ex-husband again shows up to make trouble but will find himself buried in problems of his own. And again the tenants in 2C are nothing but trouble. The plot is tight and moves right along, the regular characters are now like old friends, and the new ones are excellent. This book has it all, murder, mayhem and mischief. The humor factor is high but is blended seamlessly with drama. Many loose ends seem to be tied up in the edition, I don't think this is the end of the series, but Viets may be taking Helen in a different direction. I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next. FTC Disclosure: Received from a friend..
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
If it wasn't for bad luck, Helen Hawthorne won't have any luck at all. At least that's the way it seems most of the time as Helen changes from one dead-end job to the next trying to stay one step ahead of her womanizing leech of an ex-husband, Rob. Helen is the heroine in HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE, author Elaine Viet's latest installment in the Dead-End Job Mystery series. Helen's current job is at a high-end clothing consignment shop in South Florida. Vera, the shop owner, buys and re-sales designer apparel that is to die for in more ways than one. A customer is found hanging by a Gucci scarf in the shop's dressing room. The list of suspects includes the victim's developer husband and a female county commissioner, as well as a neighbor from Helen's apartment complex. With the police turning the shop upside down looking for clues and no customers browsing through the racks, Vera ask Helen to solve the murder so life can go back to normal. As Helen works on the list of suspects, another murder victim is found. This time it's her neighbor that was in the shop and a suspect in the first murder. Helen's unusual group of eclectic friends from the complex returns including apartment owner, Margery, whose love of outlandish outfits and chain smoking habits are a stable force in Helen's life. To add to Helen's stress, her mother had a heart attack with complications shortly after stopping Helen's wedding and had to be hospitalized. When her condition takes a turn for the worse, Helen has to return to St. Louis to lay her mother to rest. While in St. Louis, Helen and her sister deal with their step father, Lawn Boy Larry, who tries to skimp on the funeral to save the money for himself. Helen starts making arrangements to get her life back on track and legal. But, before she can her ex-husband turns up. Rob's reappearance causes Helen more heartache and worries, even endangering the future of her young nephew. Some how in the midst of all the craziness, including an attempt on Helen's life; she and her true love, Phil, try a second time to get married. From the first introduction to the chic consignment shop to the thunderstorm on the beach at the end, author Elaine Viets takes the reader on a whirlwind ride of fun, excitement, mystery and suspense. Follow Helen as she tracks her way through the list of high society suspects, political intrigue, and porcelain pineapples. HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE is a stand alone book, although it is the ninth installment in the mystery series. First-time readers of the series won't be left wondering what's going on, but they will want to know all the crazy jobs Helen has had before, along with all the mishaps she finds herself in. Fans of the series will be reunited with some old friends and introduced to several new ones. In addition, they may find that the curse of Apartment 2C could be changing. For a fun time in a hot city, check out HALF-PRICE HOMICIDE. You'll never look at designer labels quite the same.