“Pumped for Murder,” by Elaine Viets. Obsidian. 304 pages. $23.95.
Elaine Viets is well-known for her two mystery series. One of these is the “Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper Series,” set in St. Louis. The other is “The Dead-End Job Series,” featuring protagonist Helen Hawthorne and set in South Florida’s Broward County. “Pumped for Murder,” the latest title in that series, continues Viets’s effective blend of suspense, local color, and humor that has gained her books bestseller status.
After working through nine dead-end jobs in the previous novels in the series, Helen now sets up a private investigator business with her new husband, Phil, who is already a licensed PI. Taking an office in the Coronado Tropic Apartments, where they live, Helen and Phil set out to find some clients. Fortunately, friends who live in the same complex give them leads that pay off – after a while. One case, for which trainee Helen is the primary investigator, involves a jealous wife who thinks her buff husband is fooling around with someone at his fitness club. The other involves a man who owns a classy auto repair business. He believes that his long-dead brother, labeled as a suicide, was murdered. The mechanic wants the case reopened and his brother’s reputation cleared.
Coronado Investigations swings into action. Helen goes undercover, taking yet another dead-end job helping the receptionist at Fantastic Fitness in Fort Lauderdale so that she can spy on Bryan Minars and see if he’s cheating on his wife Shelby. Phil takes the lead in the other case, though Helen often joins him. They meet Gus, the grieving brother, to see if there is anything suspicious about the death of his late brother, Mark. The author intertwines her narration of the two cases, building suspense in each, all the while also developing the relationship between the newly-married investigative partners.
Helen’s case involves portraits of several over-the -top bodybuilders, one of who is found dead soon after Helen begins her new job. Two others, who trained the murdered competitor, are freaky from steroids, starvation, and other abuses as they chase after supposedly perfect musculature. When a police detective accuses a meek, miniscule fitness client named Evie of committing the crime, Helen takes on another case – that of clearing Evie and finding the real killer. For a long while, nothing turns up to validate Shelby Minar’s suspicions about her husband. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the July 13, 2011 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the July 14, 2011 Naples Florida Weekly, and the July 21, 2011 Palm Beach Gardens Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Elaine Viets. For pdf format, click: Viets pdf – 1 and Viets pdf – 2