Author: Elaine Viets
Publication Date: October, 2004
Paperback: 270 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Description: Helen Hawthorne has just found her new calling...as a telemarketer. And it's not long before she's disrupting dinners all over the country with her pesky calls. But during a phone survey to the home of Henry Asporth, she's the one who gets an earful when she overhears an argument, followed by a scream --- and then dead air. Was someone being strangled? Or was it just a loud movie? Helen searches the office computer database to learn more about Asporth and the much younger woman he allegedly lived with...before she disappeared. And soon Helen's in over her head, chasing clues and trying to avoid a close call...with a killer.
My Thoughts: Not sure if it's my overall apathy of telemarketers in general that annoyed me in this installment of the Dead-End Job Mystery series, or if I'm losing interest in the series overall but I found the plot hard to focus on. Helen was over the top with too many "too stupid to live" moments. Not even the appearance of Helen's "invisible pot-head" neighbor, Phil, impressed me. He just strikes me as yet another of the many men that have crossed Helen's path that she's better off avoiding. Maybe he will redeem himself later on. But I really don't care at this point.
The problem for me in this series is that Helen is becoming more stupid. I get that she's on the run. I understand why she has to avoid banks and has to work for cash under the table and why she has to sock her money away inside her furniture, teddy bear and suitcase. What pisses me off is that her carelessness costs her a large chunk of this money. On top of that, what she has to endure in order to even acquire the money in the first place to have it gone in the blink of an eye makes me want to chew glass and spit nails.
More stupidity on her part ensues. Questioning people who later end up dead and having your fingerprints all over the place does not make for an intelligent person. She wiped the fingerprints from the doorknob, but she walked inside the apartment leaving DNA evidence all over the place.
Overall, though this book is definitely the worst of the series, there’s hope that it can’t get any worse. It can only go up from here, right? Then again, Helen’s next dead-end job is in a bridal dress shop. Stupidity, carelessness and foolishness will not mix well with Bridezilla on PMS. As long as Helen’s stupidity isn’t a long term affliction, I can hang around and find out how she does in the next job.