Genre: Soft-boiled mystery
Temporary-employment agency owner Penney Maxwell agrees to look for her friend Celeste’s husband. When she finds Joel with a pistol in his hand and a hole in his head, and Lt. Brock Shaffer declares Joel’s death a suicide, Penney reluctantly begins her own investigation.
Brock finally agrees her murder theory might have merit, but his prime suspect is Celeste. Penney has to find Joel’s murderer to prove her best friend innocent. So she takes on various temporary jobs, hoping to uncover the truth about the accountant’s unexplained death. While driving a Kangaroo Hop airport shuttle Penney encounters her old college flame, Ash Moffett and sexy landscaper, Riley Boudreaux.
Posing as a cleaning lady, Penney searches the DrugCo offices in Memphis and finds information concerning Joel’s murder…then she overhears Riley accept a contract on her life. Penney suspects she’s close to finding the murderer when death threats arrive and she’s nearly run down by a DrugCo truck.
Panicked, she turns to her computer-whiz friend Angela for help. They discover that Brock and Ash are cousins and have been working together, with Brock masterminding a crystal meth scheme to maintain his former NFL lifestyle and Ash murdering Joel to protect the secret.
Needing proof, Penney and Angela travel to rural Arkansas and wind up getting lost in the swamp. First to find the women is Riley, who’s actually an undercover FBI agent. Ash surprises the group and holds them at gunpoint until, distracted by Angela, Penney wounds Ash with Riley’s backup pistol. While watching Ash being handcuffed, Penney realizes she never really loved him. She vows to get on with her life by investing her time and energy making AAA Aardvark Staffing more successful.
Soft boiled and cozy mysteries allow weird ass set ups like amateur sleuths all the time, so the obvious ludicrousness of a temporary staffing agency owner solving crimes is actually not a problem.
I’d read this. I’d be looking carefully for compelling, likable characters who are interesting. There are obvious comparisons to Elaine Viets’ novels here. Hers work really well cause they are funny and show the reader fresh aspects of businesses they thought they knew. I’ll never look at a bridal shop business the same way again after reading Just Murdered.
This synopsis doesn’t shoot you in the foot but it doesn’t grab me either.