With the offbeat comedic sensibilities of late crime fiction icon Charles Willeford, the masterful plot complexity of an Agatha Christie whodunit, and the frenetic intensity of the classic 1960s television show The Fugitive, Elaine Viets's Dead-End Job saga (Just Murdered, Dying to Call You, et al.) is an irresistibly entertaining mystery series with an ingenious premise: Helen Hawthorne -- a highly successful career woman on the run from her past -- is forced to take a series of dead-end, under-the-counter jobs in order to survive and stay one step ahead of the law. In every Dead-End Job novel, the lovable, ill-fated amateur sleuth takes a new job and inevitably becomes entangled in an unusual crime.
In Murder Unleashed -- Viets's first-ever hardcover mystery release -- Hawthorne is working in a posh Fort Lauderdale dog boutique that services the upper crust of South Florida. But while returning a spoiled Yorkie to her pretentious owner, Hawthorne finds the blonde trophy wife naked -- and dead -- by the pool. To complicate matters, a valuable chocolate labradoodle (part Labrador, part poodle) pup is kidnapped and a looming hurricane is moving closer…. With a laundry list of suspects (a flamboyant dog groomer named Jonathon; a sleazy, Speedo-wearing husband, etc.), can Hawthorne uncover the killer without revealing her past to the cops?
Readers who enjoy amateur sleuth mysteries as much as they enjoy witty, laugh-out-loud authors like Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, and Carl Hiaasen will absolutely devour Murder Unleashed. Amid the deluge of similar entries, Viets's Dead-End Job novels stand alone: a highly intelligent and wildly humorous look at the chasm that separates the wealthy elite from minimum-wage America. Paul Goat Allen