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Murder Between the Covers by Elaine Viets
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Murder Between the Covers (2003)

by Elaine Viets

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246None47,313 (3.53)2
Recently added bylcarrollsmith, private library, NewsieQ, 69Crazy_Mofo, loishelton, JanetMcK, Donna39, Booknymph, RRD122
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Helen Hawthorne works for cash at Page Turners, a family owned bookstore in South Florida. The proprietor, Page Turner III, is horrible to staff and customers alike and few people are upset when he is murdered. Helen is forced to investigate his death when her friend Peggy is arrested for his murder and finds that almost everyone who knew Page Turner had a good motive for killing him.

The interesting fact behind this series (which as of this year will run to eight books) is that before writing each book Elaine Viets does the jobs that she describes in the book. She was, according to her website FAQ, a bookseller for over a year before (or perhaps while) writing Murder Between the Covers. I'm sure this is what helps to give the bookstore and its myriad of demanding, (and only occasionally lovely) customers. Having done my share of time in jobs dealing with the general public I found much to relate to in that aspect of the book.

The rest of the book is fairly standard for the genre. Each potential suspect is eliminated, generally via direct questioning, until there's only one potential killer remaining and most of this was done quite believably although the ending was a little too contrived. There are a series of oddball characters, such as Helen's purple-loving 76-year-old landlady, Margery, who provided the kind of humour I tend to like in my cosies.

My one problem with the book is that I never quite bought into the Helen character. The premise is that she works for cash because any income she earns officially has to be shared with her ex-husband so even though she's well-educated she works 'dead-end jobs'. I suspect that in the real world someone smart in similar circumstances would just get themselves some good quality fake identification and get a better paying job. So there were quite a few points when I thought "well you really don't have to be in that situation" and so I couldn't summon up the sympathy I'm sure I was supposed to have. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
A fast, breezy mystery story. Likable characters and fun to read. Helen Hawthorne works low-paying jobs for under-the-table wages because she's on the run from the law. There are lots of references to a crowbar being wielded. Makes for an interesting setup, until about 3/4 of the way through the book, when the circumstances of her 'crimes' are revealed. I won't 'spoil' the plot, but will say that after reading that section of the book, Helen's fear of being arrested made no sense to me. That said, I enjoyed reading the book and wouldn't mind reading the others in the series. ( )
  y2pk | Oct 15, 2009 |
Better and better ( )
  gerleliz | Sep 19, 2009 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For booksellers everywhere: Your job is harder than it looks. Your influence is greater than you'll ever know.
First words
"Helen, where the hell are you?" The creep used the intercom, so everyone heard.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451210816, Mass Market Paperback)

Helen has a new job "off the books" at Page Turners bookstore in Fort Lauderdale...until the owner is murdered. But since the arrogant Page Turner III had so many enemies, Helen will have to read between the lines to uncover the truth about a clever killer.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:27 -0400)

Helen has a new job "off the books" at Page Turners bookstore in Fort Lauderdale. It's run by Page Turner III, who is neither well-read nor well-liked. When his money troubles surface, it seems the store may close. Then Page is found dead, and he had plenty of enemies, including an unhappy wife and unfortunate employees. But it's his unforgiving lover--Helen's wacky neighbor--whom police are ready to throw the book at. To save her friend, Helen will have to read between the lines.… (more)

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