This is the 14th book in the Dead-End Job Mysteries by Elaine Viets, who also authors the Mystery
Shopper Series which features Josie Marcus. The protagonist in the present novel is Helen Hawthorne, who with her husband and private eye partner, Phil, run Coronado Investigations, in Fort Lauderdale. When Helen is hired to find a missing watercolor by John Singer Sargent whose worth is estimated to be a million dollars due in part to a handwritten note by Clark Gable on the revere side, Helen goes undercover as a library volunteer to try to find the small piece of art, part of a collection donated to the Flora Park Library, which is believed to be tucked into one of the thousands of books which comprise the collection, as have been two other important documents, a birth certificate and a deed to a Tallahassee property. The various characters who people the library and become suspects include the library director, the librarian whose province is the checkout desk, the head of the Friends of the Library, and a benefactor who confuses the library with her own persona, among others. Another mystery arises with an apparent ghost haunting the library.
At the same time, Phil is tasked with his own undercover job, as a gardener at a luxurious home from which the owner’s gift to his daughter on her 21st birthday, a very expensive diamond and ruby necklace, has been stolen, as has a golf cart, as to which I suppose one has to be a Floridian to understand. Another colorful group of characters populate this aspect of the story.
Not surprisingly, the author includes references to various authors, mainly but not exclusively those who write mysteries, along with a lot of interesting information not familiar to those of us who are not librarians. There is also a lot of what I found to be somewhat superfluous descriptions of the clothes worn by the library’s workers and patrons. Things get more sinister when a fatal hit-and-run incident occurs, the only clue being that the vehicle in question was white, following which nearly every car owned or driven by any of the characters is white, nearly each of these sporting a dent or a ding from one supposedly innocent event or another. The author amps up the suspense as the book nears its conclusion and the solution to the two sets of mysteries. As always, Ms. Viets has provided us with a very entertaining novel. It is a fast read, and one which is recommended....Continua