Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Die Buying - Laura DiSilverio

Die Buying
A Mall Cop Mystery
Laura DiSilverio
Berkley Prime Crime


Right off the bat, I know what you’re thinking: “A mall cop?  Really?”  I know you’re thinking that, because that’s what I was thinking, too.  But stay with me here, because if you overlook this one, you’re going to miss a great mystery filled with fresh and original characters.

Thirteen months ago, EJ Ferris was on tour in Iraq when an IED shredded her knee.  She was discharged from the Air Force security police, a job she loved, and sent home to rehab and rebuild a life.  What she really wants is a job on a police force.  But, with her knee the way it is, it’s highly unlikely that she could pass physical muster.  To keep herself even peripherally in the game, she takes a job as a security officer at a large mall.

Generally, the job is reuniting lost kids with parents and helping people find their cars.  But, on the day our story starts, there’s a whole lot more going on than a bunch of early-morning mall walkers.  First, there’s the “liberation” of several dozen snakes and reptiles from the Herpetology Hut by animal activists.  Then, and far more concerning, there’s the dead guy in the store window.  The naked dead guy.  The naked dead guy with the bullet hole in his head who’s been posed in the window’s display.  The naked dead guy who turns out to be a high-powered developer who was about to close a deal to build a golf course and connected mall nearby that might put any number of current store owners out of business.

EJ is a great new character.  Being a ‘mall cop’ isn’t her idea of a great job, but it’s all she can get at the moment.  And, when the local cops look down their noses at her, she finds that being unofficial has its advantages, too.  She knows the mall, its staff, its routines; she doesn’t need things like search warrants or probable cause to conduct an investigation or ask questions.  Sure, being a cop is what she wants, but if that’s off the table, she’s going to do what she can.

EJ is assisted by her retired-CIA-operative granddad.  He’s a fun character; a man who’s retired but still keeps up on the latest gadgets and tradecraft.  EJ might worry about him, but rightly concludes that the man is an adult with all his mental faculties intact and someone who can be of help to her from time to time.  He loves that, too, because he gets to use his knowledge and spy tools.  It’s a nice, realistic relationship.  That may be the hallmark of this new series: a well-constructed mystery that kept me turning pages surrounded by characters who act – for good or for bad – like real people.

Rating: 7 ½
August 2011
ISBN# 978-0-425-24273-6 (paperback)


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