'Die Buying' by Laura DiSilverio is a cozy shopper's red tag find
Die Buying: A Mall Cop Mystery
By Laura DiSilverio
Paperback, 276 pages, $7.99
When Emma-Joy (E.J.) Ferris shipped out to Iraq to serve her country and was injured as a member of the Air Force, her dreams of returning home and becoming a cop were dashed. The best she could do was get a job as a mall cop.
“The work might not give me the adrenaline rush that patrolling the streets of Kabul or Baghdad with my military unit had, but it was still police work, of a sort, and I couldn’t expect much better with a knee and lower leg mangled by shrapnel from an IED blast.”
E.J. traverses that halls and parking lots of Fernglen Galleria on her Segway, and as this first in a new series opens, she’s on the lookout for 21 lizards, two tortoises and 15 snakes, including a 15-foot python named Agatha.
The pet shop had been broken into by an animal group that called itself “Lovers of Animal Freedom.”
“LOAF? There is an animal rescue group that called itself LOAF?”
E.J. has nothing against reptiles, but she preferred her “animal buddies to have no fewer than two and no more than four legs. And fur or feathers as an exterior covering beat scales or wet skin every time.”
The mall opened early for walkers. “I don’t know why, but some people don’t want snakes to be part of their shopping experience,” E.J. says, tongue-in-cheek.
“In the mall, the scariest thing you expect to find is the total on your credit card receipt,” so when a screaming woman draws E.J.’s attention, the last thing she expects to find is a naked dead man in a clothing store window with a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead.
E.J. teams up with retired Grandpa Atherton, a former CIA intelligence officer, who refuses to take up stamp collecting or golf. He'd rather amuse himself with crime-fighting, and the two combine forces to crack a case of vandals who have been spray painting cars in the mall parking lot as well as solve a couple of murders.
“Grandpa was gaga for gadgets, combining the Internet and hitting up spy buddies and God-knows-who for techno-gadgets that detected photographed, surveilled, recorded, and, for all I knew, made Belgian waffles while videotaping a target.”
"The mall had more than 100 cameras, only about one third of them were actually hooked up. The rest were for show, to scare crooks away from shoplifting or vandalism, the video equivalent of “This house protected by So-and-So-Security” stickers on the windows of the house with no alarm system."
As the story progresses, the bodies start piling up, and as the local police investigate in one direction, E.J. and Grandpa look for other leads — that lead to solving the crimes.
Will there be romance in E.J.’s future with a mall cookie maker, who acts an awful lot like an undercover cop?
Will the local police force start taking her theories seriously?
Will Grandpa take up bridge or blow up one with his fancy gadgets?
This is a wonderful start to a new series with likable characters, lots of humor, and a swift-moving story that will grab anyone who has ever stepped foot in a mall. There are so many different directions this series can take; I look forward to finding out where DiSilverio will take readers next time.
Until then, I'm adding 'Die Buying' to my cozy favorites for the year — even though I hate to shop.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, each Wednesday she reviews a cozy mystery in her column called “Cozy Corner.”