Board StiffMargery Flax here, Marlboro-smoking landlady of the Coronado Tropic Apartments in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In most Dead-End Job mysteries by Elaine Viets, you see me by the pool drinking wine in a sunset salute, or puttering around the property.

But ever since Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont got married and opened their own private eye agency, Coronado Investigations, I also work for them as an independent operative.

I’m seventy-six and I like this age. Sure, I had fun being young and pretty. But now that I’m old and wrinkled, I have something better than beauty – power.

As a Coronado operative, I usually go undercover as a tourist or something.

But in Elaine Viets’ newest Dead-End Job mystery, “Board Stiff,” I put on the dog. I have a drop-dead gorgeous couture suit, a cigarette holder and a rented Rolls Royce – at four in the morning. I’m hired to protect a suspect in the hospital until Phil can safely deliver him to the authorities.

Board Stiff,” Elaine’s twelfth Dead-End Job mystery, is the ultimate beach book. Crooked politicians and jealous rivals in mythical Riggs Beach want to ruin Sunny Jim’s Stand-Up Paddleboard Rentals (that’s where the “board” in “Board Stiff” comes from). There’s fast action and a little romance.

I’m pretty good myself in my expanded role. Imagine Maggie Smith with sand in her shoes, and you’ve got some idea how I played this role. Here’s my big scene from “Board Stiff.” – Margery

“Where is my grandson? I wish to see him immediately.” Helen recognized that voice. Margery. She stormed into the emergency room at four in the morning, magnificent in her chaos.

Helen watched from her ER cubicle as their landlady swept through in a lavender Chanel suit. The suit had an ethereal shine in the sad late-night fluorescent light. Margery’s elegant ropes of pearls and gold clinked delicately, the soft sound of money. A large-brimmed hat dipped over one eye.

Margery puffed on a cigarette in an ebony holder. Helen thought that was overdoing it.

A sturdy shorthaired nurse in puke green scrubs planted herself in front of Margery. “You can’t smoke in here,” she said, a brave bulldog barking at a goddess. “And you can’t park your Rolls in front of the emergency room entrance. That’s for ambulances.”

Rolls? Helen wondered. Where the heck did Margery get a Rolls at this hour?

“I didn’t park the car there,” Margery said. “My driver did. You may tell him to move it.”

“Not till you put out that cigarette.” The nurse had the pale white skin and nearly colorless eyes of a cave creature. “It’s a fire hazard.”

Helen admired the nurse for standing her ground. Margery was formidable. The nurse waited, hands on hips, until Margery stubbed out her cigarette and stowed her cigarette holder in her Chanel handbag.

“There,” Margery said. “You may talk to my driver now.” Dismissed.

Helen was surprised that the tough little nurse left. Margery stalked straight to the ER cubicle with the Riggs Beach cop posted in front of it. He started to say something, but Margery glared him into silence.

She threw open the door and said, “Darling, what have these awful people done to you?”

“I –” he said.

“Sh!” Margery said. “Don’t say a word, sweetheart. You let Grandmama handle everything.” Accent on the “grand.”

Phil raised an eyebrow and Helen smiled at him. He wrote a quick note: “Margery watching suspect till I call police. Told her to be rich bitch.”

“Doing good job,” Helen wrote.


finalThanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of FINAL SAIL to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Contest ends June 2; US entries only per publisher’s request.


Publishers Weekly says “Board Stiff” is “entertaining…..Viets shines at evoking Florida’s vibrant landscape and even more colorful characters.” praises her “quick-witted mysteries.”

Check out the book trailer at

Meet the author
Elaine’s bestselling Dead-End Job series is a satiric look at a serious subject – the minimum-wage world. Her character, Helen Hawthorne, works a different low-paying job each book. Elaine won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards.

Board Stiff: A Dead-End Job” mystery is an e-book and a hardcover from Obsidian, a division of Penguin. Read another sample at www.elaineviets.com.

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