Doc in the Box (Francesca Vierling Series #4)

Doc in the Box (Francesca Vierling Series #4)

by Elaine Viets

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440236207
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/11/2000
Series: Francesca Vierling Series , #4
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,224,208
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Elaine Viets is an Agatha and Anthony Award–winning author who writes the Dead-End Job mystery series. She is also the author of the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series, the Francesca Vierling mystery series, and numerous short stories. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

Jack was buttoning up his shirt. I stared at his upper chest, a slab  of tanned and toned muscle. As he tucked in his shirttail, I admired  that rippling washboard stomach once more, and imagined those muscles  moving the way I saw them last night. My mind wandered to other  visions now concealed by his pants. Those strong legs and hot buns  and . . .

"So, was I good?" he asked, combing his hair with his  fingers. He didn't wait for me to answer. He knew he was. He was the  sort of man who made women howl and claw his hide.

"Got any hair spray I can borrow?" he said.

"Nope, never use it," I said. That wasn't quite true, but if  you let him, the guy borrowed more stuff than a sorority roommate.  He'd already used my powder compact, my teasing comb, and my pink  lipstick to make his heart-stopping lips more luscious. He used his  own eyeliner, though. I don't lend that out. I wasn't taking a chance of getting pinkeye from the handsome Jack.

I shifted on my lopsided chair in the men's dressing room at  the Heart's Desire, a strip club ten minutes across the river from  downtown St. Louis. We like to go across the Mississippi River into  Illinois for our sin. That way we can pretend we really don't have it  in our city. But we keep it close to home.

Jack Hogenbaum, a.k.a. "Leo D. Nardo, Your Titanic Lover,"  was the star of Ladies' Nights at the club. He'd been packing them in  since the movie. He looked like Leonardo DiCaprio. Well, sort of. At  least his brown hair hung down over his forehead on the left side, he  had soulful eyes, and when he danced, he could do stuff with a life  preserver you never dreamed.

It was my job to follow him around for a day. My name is  Francesca Vierling, and I'm a columnist for the  St. Louis City Gazette. I'm six feet tall, dark hair, smart mouth.  I'm generally in trouble with the newspaper management, but this last  punishment from my sleazy managing editor had turned into an unexpected  pleasure. Charlie, who was slime in a suit, had ordered me to do a story about  "a day in the life of a stripper on the East Side. Human interest, you  know."

Humans were a species Charlie knew very little about. He was sure he'd  make me furious with this porky assignment. But he never said which  stripper I should follow. So I did a day in the life of a male stripper, Leo D.  Nardo. So far I'd managed to extend this assignment to two days, for a real  in-depth look. Last night I watched the show with the women in the  audience. Tonight, I was backstage with Leo.

The club had that down-at-heels look you find backstage  everywhere. The men's dressing room had a big silver star on the door, but the  door was covered with dirty handprints. The room smelled of Lysol and stale  cigarette smoke, and the walls were painted an evil yellow. There were two  stained sinks, a wall mirror losing its silvering, and a cigarette-burned  countertop littered with more makeup than Dolly Parton's dressing table. A  scuffed black swinging door led to the shower and stalls. I stayed in the  dressing room, which was fetchingly decorated with prime beefcake. Officer  Friendly, an arresting male dancer in a break-apart police uniform, was  applying eyeliner in front of the glaringly lit mirror. He danced before Leo,  getting the women warmed up for the star.

Leo was dressing for his eight o'clock show. He'd shown up at  seven-ten, wearing a sleazy purple mesh muscle shirt cut so low it barely  covered his nipples, and tight jeans with a big bulge in front. I figured he

must have stuffed half his sock drawer in there. He was carrying a freshly  dry-cleaned sailor suit. It was the break-apart costume for his act.  Leo hung it carefully on a nail in the wall, right over his glitter-covered life preserver that had "Titanic" spelled out in dark blue sequins. Then he stripped off his shirt and pants while I interviewed him. He looked casual and comfortable taking off his clothes. I felt overdressed in my black Donna Karan suit. I was glad I was sitting down, even on that hard molded plastic chair. I wasn't used to carrying on conversations with men who wore only a well-filled G-string with "Titanic" on the front. It looked like the  guy didn't lie, either, unless he was wearing the male equivalent of the  WonderBra. My mind skittered away from awful puns about going down on the  Titanic. I couldn't print them, anyway.

Any other man would have been embarrassed taking off his clothes and  putting on makeup, but not Leo. He just got naked naturally. That was part of  his charm. He didn't strut, although he had plenty of reason to. I could feel a  blush creeping up my neck. Damn. I wanted so badly to be hard-boiled, but I  couldn't escape twelve years of Catholic schools. The nuns got me, no matter

how hard I tried to be cool. And this was an occasion of sin, if I ever saw  one. Impure thoughts buzzed pleasantly in my brain. I was going to hell. Oh,

well. Might as well enjoy perdition. I got hold of myself, since I didn't have  the nerve to get hold of Leo. I tuned into what he was saying.

". . . and while I don't want to say it's every guy's dream  to take off his clothes in front of a lot of women, it's by no means a boring  job." Good quote. I wrote it down on my clipboard. I never used a reporter's

notebook, which looked like a skinny steno pad. I'm a big woman, and I like  something I can hold. Argghh. That sounded wrong, too. I had to get those  raging hormones under control.

Leo's next action didn't help. He rummaged in the clutter on the dressing  table for a bottle of baby oil, and began oiling his golden brown chest and  arms. They were smooth, hard, and hairless. I wondered if he shaved them. I  could definitely see he worked out, but he didn't have a rubbery overmuscled

weightlifter's body, the kind with the veins sticking out on his neck and arms.  I'd never known any woman who found those overdeveloped hard bodies attractive.  Leo's muscles were well defined, but not bulging. He slathered more oil on a

perky pec and said, "I do this because the women like it."

Amen, brother, I thought. But I wrote that down, too.

"Did you pump up?" Officer Friendly asked him, as he used a Q-tip  to flick away a stray bit of mascara. Officer Friendly had light eyelashes he  was trying to darken. I wondered if he knew he could dye them, but before I  could say anything, I heard sirens. That was Officer Friendly's cue to go  onstage. He grabbed his nightstick and ran out the door.

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Doc in the Box (Francesca Vierling Series #4) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago

Her father cheated on her mother usually with someone they knew. Finally, her mother could not take anymore. She murdered him and killed herself. Their daughter, St. Louis Gazette columnist Francesca Vierlong, is afraid of marriage. When her boyfriend Lyle proposes, she turns him down even though she loves him. To keep the pain of losing him at bay, she buries herself at work by covering two stories at the same time. One story involves a missing stripper while the other concerns a serial killer.

Francesca profiles the Heart Desire¿s Night Club gorgeous stripper Jack ¿Leo Ds Nardo¿ Hegenbaum for one of her columns. To her surprise, Francesca has a good time feasting her eyes on the stud muffin. When she calls him to ask a few remaining questions, she learns he has vanished. The last person to apparently have seen Jack was a homeless elderly lady. While she cannot help Jack, Francesca begins an active search to uncover the identity of the DOC IN THE BOX KILLER. In spite of her frantic activity, Francesca cannot remove Lyle from her heart.

The charm behind this novel is the heroine¿s inquiries into her two opposite type cases. One is a bit of fluff while the other is a deadly criminal investigative piece. Both share the need for Francesca to bury her aching heart. Although the quality of her previous works is quite high, Elaine Viets seems to improve as a writer who can create a unique, effervescent synergy that freshens up the amateur sleuth mystery genre.

Harriet Klausner