Series: Book 3 in the Josie Marcus: Mystery Shopper series
Extras? Yes, information about mystery shopping, as well as details about shopping for accessories.
So Josie decides to do what she does best to help out her friend-go undercover and see if she can find some clues. Because this time, there's a lot more at stake than a scarf, even if it's to die for...
What worked: Elaine Viets knows how to write a cozy mystery. The characters are fleshed out and I particularly like the female relationships (Josie and her best friend Alyce, Josie, her mom Jane, and her daughter Amelia). The story was interesting--there were so many potential villains I honestly had no idea who did it until the very end of book.
Oddly, I used to occasionally mystery shop a few years ago. Viets does a good job pointing out the pluses and minuses. It would have taken a TON of work to make a full-time jobs worth of money but I did enjoy it. My favorite jobs were mystery shopping a local bank for mortgage brokers--they always did excellent (so I could write positive reviews) and I learned a lot about mortgages. The best part, as Viets points out, is the spy-like experience and the feeling that you can make a difference.
What didn't: The books (the Mystery Shopper and the Dead-End jobs) are starting to feel a little formulaic. I almost feel some reverse snobbery oozing through the books--rich and expensive equal phony and poor or middle-class are superior. Plus every man ends up being a crook or a loser.
Caution: SPOILERS! (Whited out for those who don't want to be spoiled)
And how did Amy the Slut know an important plot point? I just couldn't figure that piece out (although, admittedly, that is a small detail). It was also very difficult for me to believe that a middle-aged white woman could pass as a teenaged African-American without anyone noticing. I mean, really.