A Day in the Life of Helen Hawthorne by Elaine Viets

Art of MurderYes, I went undercover as a high-priced call girl, chased a vicious killer through a fancy neighborhood, and nearly killed myself walking in hooker heels in The Art of Murder.

None of that would have happened if my landlady, Margery Flax, hadn’t dragged me to a Fort Lauderdale museum.

My name is Helen Hawthorne. I’m forty-one, a partner in a detective agency, Coronado Investigations, with my husband, Phil Sagemont. Margery is seventy-six. She owns the Coronado Tropic Apartments. That’s where Phil and I live and have our PI office.

Margery insisted I tour the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens.

I’m not big on museum house tours. I get bored looking at dead, rich people’s things.

But Margery said this tour was different, and once again, she was right.

Bonnet House is a lighthearted oasis tucked next to trashy tourist shops and grim, gray hotels on Fort Bonnet House Lauderdale Beach. It was owned by two artists, Frederic Clay and Evelyn Bartlett. The cheerful pale yellow mansion was Frederic’s idea of a Caribbean plantation house. We could see squirrel monkeys playing in the trees, white swans preening in a pond, and exotic orchids blooming everywhere.

“I could actually live here,” I told Margery, “and I don’t feel that way about most mansions.”

“Frederic and his wife, Evelyn, weren’t your usual super-rich,” Margery said. “They both had brains and talent. Evelyn is my role model. She appreciated good art, good booze, good living and good men. Made it to age a hundred and nine. After a scandalous divorce back in the twenties, she outlived her critics in style.”

Margery had her own style and juicy scandals. She’d once been arrested for murder.

We saw Frederic’s towering, two-story art studio with the clear north light artists love. I could almost see the boldly handsome Bartlett painting, a romantic figure with slicked-back hair and a mustache, holding his palette like a shield and wielding a brush. He looked like the sort of man who could get away with a poet’s shirt.

The tour guide told us Evelyn liked good food, but never set foot in the kitchen. She’d talk to the cook about the day’s meals through the window.

My kind of woman.

Margery and I admired the house’s whimsical touches: the gilded Baroque columns swirling around the bonnet_house3drawing room doors, the brightly painted carousel giraffes on a courtyard walkway, and the lacy wrought iron from New Orleans. We saw Frederic’s murals and paintings. Evelyn’s colorful, sensual art had its own white-walled gallery in a former guest house.

We both liked the Shell Museum, a 1930s bandbox housing Evelyn’s shell collection, her Bamboo Bar, and blooming orchids. “At the age of a hundred and one, Evelyn started a new hobby, collecting miniature orchids,” the tour guide said.

“Wonder what I’ll be doing at a hundred and one,” Margery said.

“Whatever you want,” I said. “I like the idea that Frederic gave Evelyn her own bar.”

“Most men won’t even fetch their wives a drink,” Margery said.

By the time we were at the Bonnet House courtyard, I felt slightly dazed and dazzled, as if I’d watched Evelyn and Frederic’s star-dusted lives on fast forward.

Bonnet2The courtyard, sheltered by feathery palms and bright with flowers, was cool even at noon. A flock of artists were working on the loggia, and we watched the teacher and the students.

I don’t know much about art, but I thought a student called Annabel was the best painter, maybe better than the teacher. Annabel was about thirty-five, but so thin, she looked like she might snap. A lime green cane was propped against her table like an exotic plant. At first glance, Annabel’s painting seemed slapdash, but I could feel the movement. Only the good ones have that power.

Then Margery’s fingers started twitching. “I’m dying for a cigarette,” she said. I was surprised she’d lasted more than an hour without a Marlboro.

I was sorry to leave Bonnet House. But it turned out I’d be spending lots more time there. That same morning after class, the talented Annabel collapsed and died. All that talent lost. No one knew if she was a suicide or a murder victim. I was hired to find out.

Margery, Phil and I caught the killers. But not before I was in a car chase that ended when a six-figure sports car crashed into a million-dollar yacht.


The Art of Murder, Elaine Viets’s 15th Dead-End Job mystery, debuts May 3rd as a hardcover online and at fine bookstores, published by Obsidian, May 2016.

From the national bestselling author of Checked Out, Helen Hawthorne must pose as a painter at Fort Lauderdale’s famous Bonnet House Museum to catch an artful killer . . .

The art world is a happening place—but a brush with death shouldn’t be in the picture. Unfortunately that’s just what happens to Helen Hawthorne and her friend Margery. While touring gorgeous Bonnet House, a mansion-turned-museum, they observe a painting class and note an up-and-coming artist. When they later see her deadly end, Helen is hired to canvas the crime scene—undercover, of course.

Sketchy suspects lurk in the victim’s bohemian past. Was the promising painter killed by her jealous husband? Her best friend? A rival using her artful wiles? With her husband Phil busy setting a trap for a gold thief, it’s up to Helen to paint this killer into a corner . . .

# # # # # # # # # # #

About the author
The Art of Murder, Elaine Viets’ new Dead-End Job mystery, opens at Bonnet House, a whimsical elaineVietsFort Lauderdale museum with rollicking art, exotic orchids, carousel figures, and a troupe of mischievous squirrel monkeys that escaped from a bar. Elaine worked as a museum volunteer while she researched her fifteenth Dead-End Job mystery.

She’s written 29 bestselling mysteries in three series: hardboiled Francesca Vierling mysteries, traditional Dead-End Job mysteries, and cozy Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries. Checked Out, Viets’ 14th Dead-End Job mystery is set at a library. Suspense magazine called it one of 2015’s best cozies. The Palm Beach Post named, Shop till You Drop, Elaine’s first Dead-End Job mystery, one of 16 must-read Florida books, along with John D. MacDonald, Elmore Leonard and Jeff “Dexter” Lindsay.

Elaine has written numerous short stories for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines, and anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block. She’s won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards. Visit her at www.elaineviets.com.

Elaine will tour eight cities May 3-10. To see where she’s signing, click HERE.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Checked Out. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end May 9, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

74 responses to “A Day in the Life of Helen Hawthorne by Elaine Viets

  1. Would love to win a print copy Checked Out.Thank you for the chane

    • Elaine Viets

      CHECKED OUT is the paperback edition of last year’s Dead-End Job mystery, Cathy It’s set at a library. My publisher is donating that and if you win, you’ll win that plus I’ll personally send you a copy of THE ART OF MURDER.

  2. Yes please Dru, I’d kill to win a copy of Elaine’s new book. Especially in hard cover.

    • Elaine Viets

      Hi, Nora. Thanks for stopping by. As I told Cathy, CHECKED OUT is the paperback edition of last year’s Dead-End Job mystery. It’s set at a library. My publisher is donating that and if you win, you’ll win that plus I’ll personally send you a copy of THE ART OF MURDER.

  3. Donna Gantt

    I read every book by Elaine VIets I can get my hands on. Thanks for a chance to win!

  4. I have not read anything by Elaine Vierts yet, and this looks like a great place to start. Looking forward to reading. Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. Doward Wilson

    I have read two of her series and love them. Thanks for the chance to win.

  6. What a great sounding book. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the opportunity to enter your giveaway. robeader53@yahoo.com

  7. What a great review, and the cover art is adorable! I would love to win. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • Elaine Viets

      The cover art is by a Japanese artist named Tsuskushi. I love her work, too.

  8. Great series..This one sounds wonderful!

  9. Jill Porco

    Sounds like a good cozy! Thanks for the chance to enter.

  10. Super series! Love to win the latest.
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

  11. I haven’t read this series, although it’s “on my list”. This would be a good start.

    • Elaine Viets

      Yes, it would, Gail. I’ve written the books so you can pick them up any where in the series and read them.

  12. Mary Jane H.

    I love the vivid descriptions that were used to describe this book, they make me want to dive right into it right now. Thanks Dru for the great review.

    • Elaine Viets

      THE ART OF MURDER will be a trip to Fort Lauderdale, Mary Jane — without the humidity.

  13. Enjoyed reading this article.
    I have read some of your other books and really enjoyed them. This one sounds equally as good.

  14. elainehroberson

    This would be a great book to add to my cozy challenge list. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  15. One of my favorite series – would love to win
    Checked Out.

    • Elaine Viets

      CHECKED OUT is the paperback edition of last year’s Dead-End Job mystery. It’s set at a library. My publisher is donating that and if you win, you’ll win that plus I’ll personally send you a copy of THE ART OF MURDER. You can enjoy them both, Shirley.

  16. Thanks for this delightful cozy which sounds enjoyable.

  17. MarilynDenler

    I’ve read Shop Till You Drop and it was so good! I’d be so happy to win and enjoy her newest book in this series.

    • Elaine Viets

      And don’t forget the 13 books in between, Marilyn. Helen’s had many adventures.

  18. Patty Allen

    I love this author! Can’t wait to read this new book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  19. I love, love, love this series. Helen is a very determined character, and her landlady is a hoot.

    • Elaine Viets

      In THE ART OF MURDER, Margery sort of steals the show. I have to watch her.

  20. Barbara Hackel

    I love everything Elaine has written. HEr characters are fun and not afraid to do whatever is needed. Thanks Dru for the heads up on the newest book! Thanks Elaine for the chance to win a copy! 🙂 (Fingers are crossed!)

  21. I love Elaine Viets work! Would love to take this one out for a spin.

  22. Elaine Viets

    Fingers crossed, CJ.

  23. Celia Fowler

    I enjoyed reading about Bonnet House–Evelyn Bartlett sounds like quite a character. I appreciate the opportunity to win a copy of Checked Out — you’ve gotta love a mystery that takes place in a library. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

    • Elaine Viets

      Evelyn was definitely one of a kind. She’s Margery’s role model, Celia.

  24. I can hardly wait . . . but Helen in heels as a hooker? Really? I do love the fast-paced adventure, the solid friendships and support, and “brush with death” . . . yes, the puns! Good enough for my other favorite author, Will Shakespeare, good enough for any writer. I don’t know how you do it, but I do know to clear the calendar for the day I start an Elaine Viets book.

  25. Love Elaines books, hope I win, ty great read

  26. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE GIVEAWAY STATES “CHECKED OUT” AS THE BOOK YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN.

  27. Sandy Todd

    Thank you Dru Ann for yet another great review! Elaine’s books are awesome reads! Thank you for a chance to win Checked Out.

    • Elaine Viets

      I second that thank you, Sandy. Dru Ann is a book reviewer and author advocate.

  28. Sounds like a great read.

  29. This sounds fun! What a perfect location for a murder. I look forward to reading it.

    • Elaine Viets

      The mystery starts at Bonnet House, but I didn’t want to kill anyone at that beautiful place, Maureen. The victim dies in a parking lot across the street.

  30. The Bonnet House is truly magical.

  31. Cynthia E. Blain

    I would absolutely love to become the recipient of this book. I must order the Art of Murder soon as I love to paint, and have not been able to do much painting lately due to cataracts, so this book would be very interesting to me. Elaine is a great writer; I have enjoyed many books in the various series. I hope the tour goes great for you Elaine. Travel safely and thank you for the chance to win one of your books. Cynthia Blaiin

  32. Vicki Highley

    This a series that I have to read. I hope I win a copy of Checked Out.. But I have to read the Art of Murder. It will be my next purchase.

  33. Peggy Hyndman

    My granddaughter have read several of Elaine Viets’ books and loved them. Thank you for this chance.

    • Peggy Hyndman

      Sorry … meant to say “My granddaughter and I have read several of Elaine Viets’ books and we both loved them. Thank you for this chance.”

  34. Laura Frye

    Love this series, but I’m woefully behind on it. Will have to work to catch up.

  35. rosemary pfeiffer

    beautiful pictures..thanks for this chance

  36. Helen sounds like the type of main character I would really like. All the books sound fantastic. Thank you for sharing a day with Helen!

  37. These dead end job books are just a hoot. I’d love to win this one.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

  38. Cheryl Corbitt

    A new-to-me series!! Love any cozy set in Florida!

  39. I’ve always enjoyed Elaine’s books
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  40. Wow this sounds fantastic. The Cover looks good too. I’d love to read this. Please enter me and thanks for the review.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  41. I enjoyed this post. The Art of Murder looks like a great read and is on my TBR. And would like to read Checked Out. Looks like a great beginning to getting to know this author’s work. Always exciting to learn of a new author and series. Thanks for the heads up

  42. Some serious binge-reading is in my future!!
    Thank you for the giveaway…

  43. Linda Herold

    I have enjoyed reading your cozy series! I’d love to win your book! Thanks for offering this chance! lindaherold999@gmail.com

  44. Love Elaine’s writing. May I have this one, please?