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Dying in Style: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper    by Elaine Viets order for
Dying in Style
by Elaine Viets
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

To her mother's eternal disappointment, Josie is happy with her career as a mystery shopper. Sure, the pay is lousy and she sometimes walks ten miles in one day. Driving as much as 300 miles a day is hard on her car, but the job is perfect for Josie. She lives to shop, loves going undercover as a suburban spy, can't stand store employees who are rude to their customers, and best of all, her job leaves her plenty of flexible time for her nine-year old daughter, Amelia.

Josie's new assignment is a plum. She is to review stores owned by St. Louis' own celebrity philanthropist, Danessa Celedine. After visiting each of the expensive boutiques, Josie realizes the assignment is a skunk in disguise. She really doesn't want to write a bad report on the city's answer to Martha Stewart and Princess Di, but is unable to rate the stores, their employees and merchandise as more than fair - and usually not even that. Josie has a strong sense of duty and can only report what she has seen.

Danessa shows up at her boss's office when she finds out about the report. Danessa is furious, but Josie stands her ground without any help from her boss, Harry. Later that night, Danessa is murdered and Josie has to explain the negative report to the police plus how her fingerprints got on the belt used to strangle Danessa. Josie becomes the prime suspect when she fails a lie-detector test.

Dying in Style is the first in Elaine Viet's Mystery Shopper Series. Josie Marcus is independent, spirited, and inquisitive. She also has a healthy dose of self-preservation which won't allow her to sit back and wait for the police to find the killer. She can't think of anything more dangerous than facing a murder charge, until she finds herself staring into the eyes of the killer.

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