At the beach with Helen, Phil


The gradual sea-change in Elaine Viets’ “Dead-End Jobs” series has given her books an even more satisfying storyline. Helen Hawthorne, once stuck working those lousy jobs, is now a full partner with her husband in their detective agency.

In Board Stiff, Viets delivers a unique perspective of South Florida’s tourism industry: the small beach-front companies that are the lifeblood of tourism. Helen and Phil are hired by the owner of a parasailing company. Sunny Jim believes he is being vandalized by a restaurateur who wants Jim’s prime spot for a lucrative parking lot and that the murder of a tourist on one of his boards is a plan to get rid of him.

Viets, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, showcases specific spots such as the Downtowner, Lester’s Diner and Urban Brew Cafe. For Floridians, Board Stiff is a look at home. For others, it’s a vicarious Florida vacation.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed this book for The Sun Sentinel.

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