4 star rating
Board Stiff
A Dead-End Job Mystery, Book #12
By Elaine Viets
ISBN# 9780451419101
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


board-stiff-dead-end-job-mystery-elaine-vietsHusband and wife PI team Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont are about to find out murder is no day at the beach….

There’s a dark cloud over Sunny Jim’s Stand-Up Paddleboard Rental business on Florida’s Riggs Beach—especially after one of his clients is killed in a tragic paddleboarding mishap. Sunny Jim is sure it was no accident, and he hires Helen and Phil to find the murderer.

Between competitors poaching his territory, the city threatening to revoke his license, and a wrongful death suit filed by the victim’s husband, Sunny Jim may soon be up the creek without a paddle. Luckily, he has Helen and Phil on his side. As the couple investigates, they discover dark undercurrents of corruption behind the cheerful facades of the beachfront businesses. But the sands of time are running out, and if they don’t catch the killer soon, Sunny Jim won’t be the only one to go under….(from Goodreads)


And you thought your job reeked.  Or at least that you’ve had more than your share of positions that nobody should have to have.  Maybe you are even a small business owner who has had a few challenges with the competition  You can definitely appreciate the situation that Sunny Jim, of Sunny Jim’s Stand-Up Paddleboard Rental stand finds himself, when all is not sunny at Riggs Beach in Florida.

His business is quickly being ruined, board by paddle by board.  Vandalism, possibly by a competitor, is costing many dollars and customers. He suspects that a political palm or two are being greased by something other than cocoa butter tanning lotions, so he hires the now-newlywed team of Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont to discover who is trying to shut him down.  Helen and Phil are PI’s who have a bit of time on their hands, enough time for Phil to learn more about the paddleboard business. Helen seems to get the easier part of this job, basking in the sun and watching the shop, video camera in hand, hoping to document the customer-thieves from a safe distance as other sunbathers, at least the men, watch her.

Within a short time after beginning their “just a day at the beach”,  a  tourist with very little instruction on paddleboards decided to go exactly where she was warned to not go.  It was thought at first that she died from being caught in a riptide and was unable to get free enough to get air into her starving lungs.  Unfortunately, however, it is discovered later that she didn’t drown.  She was murdered.  And as a customer of Sunny Jim, it might be the last straw before his business is forced to close for good.

As if the job challenges weren’t enough, a blackmailer who had been an unwelcome guest in the lives of Helen and her sister for quite some time contacted Kathy again, wanting more money.  This time, quite a large sum.  And Helen goes with back home with the hopes of settling with the blackmailer, once and for all.  Then Phil’s pride gets the better of him, and he might be ready to end their barely-newlywed-stage marriage and Coronado Investigations – if the killer and vandals don’t get them, first.  So many interesting suspects, so little time… And, such a wonderful relationship, so much on the line to save!

This novel is expertly written with characters who have been well-developed over the course of the series and who continue to grow and change with the circumstances.  Honestly, I think my favorite was Margery Flax, the landlady and a woman who could be … an  aunt to Phil or Helen.  She takes delight in helping others and in doing odd jobs for the PI’s.  Margery also has sufficient maturity and wisdom to have the respect of most of the younger adults at the apartment complex yet she has a youthful outlook and enjoys playing an “operative”.  The twists and ironies in the plot and subplot are unexpected and fascinating to this reader!

One thing I do miss from cozy mysteries with one main protagonist is the first-person perspective of the person whose point of view is primary.  While Helen’s point of view is prominent, seeing from more than one perspective may have kept me from forming as much of an attachment with Helen. That being said, it is purely subjective from my point of view and I would not want it to prevent the average cozy reader from enjoying this current offering in this highly successful series.

The most recent novel in the Dead End Job Mystery series is well-recommended by this reader for adults of all ages.  Reading Board Stiff may give a dose of gratitude for those who have the ‘working at the car wash blues’ but can also make good, friendly wait staff or paddleboard rental clerks a bit reticent when sharing with new – or repeat – customers!  Fans of private investigator cozies that include a little bit of murder, romance, and an interesting array of suspects will enjoy this new Dead-End Job Mystery.

*OBS would like to think the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their on-going blog tour*