By Elaine Viets
Four more days and Checked Out, my new Dead-End Job mystery, will be published. I can’t wait for next Tuesday. Yes, this is my 14th Dead-End Job mystery, but publication day is still a celebration. When my hardcover copies of Checked Out arrive, I take time to admire the cover, and smell the pages. I love the lingering perfume of printer’s ink.
Checked Out is set at a library and the calico cat on the cover is Flora, the library’s organic mouse catcher. Now that private eyes Helen Hawthorne and Phil are married, Helen usually gets stuck with the rotten undercover jobs. Phil, her PI partner, usually skates by with the easy jobs. You remember Catnapped!, where Helen cleaned pedigreed cats’ litter boxes while Phil answered the phone – yeah, the phone – when their client was jailed for murder.
This time, Phil did the hard work. That man really had to sweat in the South Florida sun. Phil is tracking down a ruby necklace stolen at a scandalous party, and he goes undercover working for a lawn service, mowing grass and cleaning slimy ponds. Helen’s dead-end job seems easy by comparison. She’s searching hundreds of dusty donated books, looking for a missing million-dollar watercolor by John Singer Sergant.
During the search, an innocent woman who finds the painting first is killed – and someone tries to murder Helen.
Check out what the reviewers said: Publishers Weekly called it "snappy" and said, "Helen and Phil are as entertaining as they’ve ever been, and it’s fun to revisit their neighbors at the Coronado Tropic Apartments."
Suspense Magazine said, "Best-selling author Elaine Viets gives a brilliant example of just how the rich are different from the rest of us in her latest Dead End Job mystery . . . Another great read from a master storyteller."
Checked Out Chapter 1:
"I need your help," Elizabeth Cateman Kingsley said. "My late father misplaced a million dollars in a library book. I want it back."
Helen Hawthorne caught herself before she said, "You’re joking." Private eyes were supposed to be cool. Helen and her husband, Phil Sagemont, were partners in Coronado Investigations, a Fort Lauderdale firm.
Elizabeth seemed unnaturally calm for someone with a misplaced million. Her sensational statement had grabbed the attention of Helen and Phil, but now Elizabeth sat quietly in the yellow client chair, her narrow feet in sensible black heels crossed at the ankles, her slender, well-shaped hands folded in her lap
Helen studied the woman from her chrome-and-black partner’s chair. Somewhere in her fifties, Elizabeth Kingsley kept her gunmetal hair defiantly undyed and pulled into a knot. A thin, knife-blade nose gave her makeup-free face distinction. Helen thought she looked practical, confident and intelligent.
Elizabeth’s well-cut gray suit was slightly worn. Her turquoise-and-pink silk scarf gave it a bold splash of color. Elizabeth had money once, Helen decided, but she was on hard times now. But how the heck did you leave a million bucks in a library book?
Phil asked the question Helen had been thinking a little more tactfully: "How do you misplace millions in a library book?"
"I didn’t," Elizabeth said. "My father, Davis Kingsley, did."
"Was it a check? A bank book?"
"Oh, no," she said. "It’s a watercolor."
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