A hardcover debut for Viets’s Dead-End Job series, in which Helen Hawthorne, on the lam after going after her cheating husband with a crowbar and refusing to pay him court-ordered alimony, has to take a series of cash-only jobs to fly below institutional radar.
Jeff Barker’s Pampered Pet Boutique caters to South Florida’s most exclusive, obsessive and downright psychotic dog owners. Jeff’s prima-donna groomer, Jonathon, is the toast of Fort Lauderdale, a man whose petty rages any woman would be proud to endure. Something worse, though, has clearly happened to Tammie Grimsby, whom Helen finds stabbed to death with grooming scissors when she drives the shop’s pink Cadillac out to Tammie’s gated community to drop off Prince, her Yorkie. Panicking, Helen drives off without reporting the crime. But her bad day isn’t over yet. Willoughby Barclay, whose model labradoodle makes more money than Helen’s made in five volumes, accuses Helen of letting Barkley get dognapped and threatens to sue both Helen and Jeff. Sadly, the tension soon ebbs; the mystery is cluttered and unconvincing; and Helen’s love life passes belief. Even so, Viets has a wry way with humor—when Helen is questioned, “she only left out the part where she found Tammie, wiped down the door, dropped the dead woman’s robe in the Dumpster, and phoned the police”—and the snapshots of lunatic dog owners are priceless.
Helen’s next dead-end job could be the one that pulls this all together.