Nothing concentrates the mind of a reporter with a severe case of writer’s block like an opportune murder or two.
Cassie O’Malley’s job with a New Jersey tabloid may be on its last legs. Her new boss, impatient with the non-producing Cassie, sends her to cover the Christmas shopping rush at the mall. Bored, Cassie spends most of her time in the food court watching children visit Santa Claus until loan shark Big Mack is found dead in the men’s room. His vengeful son Little Mack doesn’t take kindly to security guard Oliver Berryhill’s claim that he knifed him in a fight over stolen jewelry. Nor does Detective Eddie “Eggs” Bebedict, with whom Cassie has quickly clicked. Even though his boss has closed the case, Eggs suspects that the absence of fingerprints on the knife proves that Oliver’s lying. The list of possible killers includes Cassie’s former boss, who was deep in debt to Big Mack. Oliver’s covering up thefts at the mall. Even Santa has secrets. Though it’s bad for business, a second body, identified as that of a pawnbroker, provides the clue that points Cassie and Eggs toward a killer.
On the evidence here, Markowitz’s humorous murder series (A Minor Case of Murder, 2006, etc.) isn’t exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but you’ll meet a number of amusing characters en route to the surprise ending.