cover image Board Stiff: A Dead-End Job Mystery

Board Stiff: A Dead-End Job Mystery

Elaine Viets. NAL/Obsidian, $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-451-23985-3

In Viets’s entertaining 12th Dead-End Job mystery (after 2012’s Final Sail), Sunny Jim Sundusky, the owner of a Florida paddleboard concession, hires married PIs Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont to find out who’s been vandalizing his boards and otherwise trying to drive him out of business. When a customer, Ceci Odell, expires in the ocean on her rented board, Helen and Phil discover that Ceci’s death was no accident. A bitter ex-employee, the victim’s abusive husband, and greedy competitors all have a stake in seeing Sunny Jim fail—as do the city officials of fictional Riggs Beach, known as “Rigged Beach” for its rampant corruption. Meanwhile, a blackmailer threatens to expose the role Helen and her sister played in the disappearance of Helen’s ex-husband, Rob. Attempting to end the extortion, she reveals a deception that may leave her current marriage as dead as the murdered paddleboarder. Despite some clunky delivery of backstory, Viets shines at evoking Florida’s vibrant landscape and even more colorful characters. Agent: David Hendin, DH Literary. (May)