Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Malled To Death - Laura DiSilverio

Malled To Death
A Mall Cop Mystery
Laura DiSilverio
Berkley Prime Crime

When last we left mall cop EJ Ferris (ALL SALES FATAL, DIE BUYING) she was in the running for the job of head of security at the Fernglen Galleria.  She’s more than qualified.  She spent almost ten years in the Air Force police overseas before an IED shredded her knee and sent her back home to rehab.  And she’d much prefer a job in any police department that will have her.  That same knee injury is keeping her out of the running for every job she’s applied for so far.  So, all in all, head of security is at least a step up at the moment.  That she didn’t get the job is frustrating enough.  That the job went to a fashion student named Coco who got the job through good old nepotism and whose sole interest is designing new uniforms just makes it worse.  (None of this counts as a spoiler – it’s all in the first few pages.)

Since there’s a film crew using the mall for a location shoot, competent security would be nice.  Since the film star’s EJ’s action-star dad, she feels that security is non-negotiable.  So far, she’s managed to keep her relationship with the movie star a secret.  Dad would like EJ to come to L.A. and be a producer, but EJ won’t give up policing in any form.  This all works out pretty well, since someone is leaving threatening notes in the star’s trailer.  He brushes it off as normal but EJ isn’t sure.  It all seems unimportant when EJ finds the prop coordinator bleeding to death in the men’s room in a little-used utility corridor during an early-morning shoot.  She’s forced to tell the police that she saw a man running from the scene; a man who’s a fellow veteran, who suffered a brain injury from an IED in the line of duty.  He’s never been physically violent and EJ feels certain that there’s something else going on in ‘her’ mall.
She gets an assist, of course, from Grandpa Atherton, the former CIA operative.  He’s always where the action is, willing to help in any way.  He’s thrilled that this time, ‘helping’ involves being cast as an extra (and made up to look roughly twenty years younger than his actual age.)  Watching EJ deal with her famous family is fascinating and helps deepen all the characters involved.  The film crew brings in a whole new group of motives and suspects, and the ‘crazed fan’ angle just makes the mystery that much more twisty.  EJ’s dealings with Jay continue to unfold and we find out a lot more about what he’s really doing when he’s not pretending to be a humble baker of cookies.  Once again, the story ends with a professional and personal crossroads for EJ, as she’s offered a job in keeping with her skills and experience, but a job that would take her away from the friends and family she’s built at Fernglen.  The world of a mall cop is so much more compelling and readable that I ever thought it would be.

Rating: 7
April 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25191-1 (paperback)


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