Fixing to Die

Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper, Book 9

By Elaine Viets

ISBN# 9780451240989

Author’s Website:

Brought to you by guest reviewer Mary C.


Mystery shopper Josie Marcus has been happily married to veterinarian Ted Scottsmeyer for months. But her newly wedded bliss is about to be cut short….

Josie and Ted have finally tied the knot, and they’re ready for the next step: buying a house. Ted’s business partner, Christine, has one she’s willing to sell, but it needs a lot of love. Luckily, the newlyweds are up for the challenge.

But when they tear down a rickety gazebo in the backyard, they find the body of Christine’s sister, a free spirit who supposedly took off six months before. The police arrest Christine for murder, leaving Ted to work overtime at the office to cover for his partner. With no time to work on the house or be with her husband, Josie will have to find the real killer quickly, before both her house and marriage are beyond repair…. (Goodreads)


This installment in the Mystery Shopper series finds Josie happily married and determined to find just the right house for her daughter Amelia and husband Joe. Unfortunately, she’s not having much luck until Ted’s partner in their vet business, Dr. Christine Dillon Cormac, offers to sell them a home she owns that was recently vacated by her hippie sister Rain. Christine regales them with tales of Rain’s abusive boyfriends, her lack of stability and not paying rent or taking care of the property. She offers Ted and Josie a deal which they quickly accept since they love the house and the price leaves them funds for renovation.

One of the first projects they undertake is to tear down a rickety gazebo Rain’s boyfriend Harley Scranton built. To their horror they discover the body of a young woman buried beneath the deck that turns out to be Christine’s sister whom she thought went to an ashram in California.

Enter Detective Noelle Stevenski, one of the most arrogant and obnoxious detectives I’ve run across in quite awhile. Her attitude set my teeth on edge. Any cop who acted that way would certainly be reprimanded. Christine became a target the moment the detective met her and no amount of reasoning penetrated her thick skull. When the neighbor, Betty Ann Goffman, told of a fight Christine had with her sister prior to her death, Christine’s fate was sealed. This was despite Betty also mentioning having to call the police on several of Rain’s boyfriends who battered her.

We don’t have much of Josie mystery shopping in this book. I missed that as Harry, her boss, is always rather fun with his crude and slimy manner. As she is interested in renovating her kitchen in midcentury modern, Josie is delighted to get an assignment to mystery shop a midcentury contractor who is applying for membership in the American Kitchen Contractors (AKC).   Josie quickly discovers that Travis Ray Porter, the contractor, is a slime ball who will do anything for the job. She is also assigned one other mystery shopping job involving midcentury items. I would have liked to see more of the shopping as this provides some funny entertainment and insight into retail.

A subplot involves Josie’s daughter Amelia and three of her friends who are bullied at the prestigious Barrington school they attend. Amelia and her friends find their picture and derogatory comments posted on Facebook.  When the head of the school is confronted by the parents of the bullied girls, she refuses to do anything. She claims she investigated and couldn’t find any of the pupils were involved. However, Amelia feels nothing will be done because the culprit’s parents are extremely wealthy and heavily endow the school. Amelia and one of the other girls who was bullied set out to prove several of the popular girls in school are the culprits.  Their solution to the bullying was interesting and state-of-the-art.

Meanwhile, Josie decides to investigate the murder and begins questioning the neighbors. She soon discovers that one of the neighbors may have had a reason to murder Rain. The ex-boyfriends also looms large as murder suspects.  Josie also feels the shady goings on at another veterinarian clinic where the doctor appears to be pulling a scam on clients involving show cats and dogs could have something to do with the murder.

I felt the solving of the murder was rather abrupt. For once, Josie wasn’t really the one to solve the mystery.  Despite this, I liked this latest installment. We get to watch Josie and Amelia become closer and we see Amelia growing into an intelligent young woman. Josie’s mother appears to be mellowing and developing a better relationship with Josie.  And, despite the long hours Ted has to work because of Christine’s incarceration, Josie and Ted still manage to act like newlyweds.

One thing that did annoy me about this book was the constant repeating of things. Amelia calls everything “sick’ and Josie keeps telling herself that means a good thing. We got it the first time.

If you like a book that makes you feel like you’re visiting old friends, I recommend you pick this one up. It’s comfy, easy to be with, and highly enjoyable.