Room 323 is a problem room at Sybil’s Full Moon Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Guests frequently trash it and Helen is usually part of the group that has to clean it.  Helen is working at the Full Moon Hotel as a maid and has been for sometime while she hides out from her ex-husband Rob.  Worked over by the court system, she isn’t about to let him have a penny of her money.  She lives a cash only existence and the folks in room 323 don’t tip.  Tips are few and far between which is why the staff, except for Helen, is always searching for the loot left behind after a botched bank robbery. The dead bank robber stayed in that room and with 100K at stake the money is worth searching for.

The staff works hard, the guests are often rude and yet, employee turnover is surprisingly low.  When Rhonda, who also worked as a maid, suddenly disappears everyone else assumes that she ran off with her often talked about but never seen rich boyfriend.  Helen isn’t so sure because she has her suspicions.  Helen has a history of finding dead bodies on other jobs and she wonders if something bad has happened to Rhonda. Her history is hammered home by a local police detective soon after Helen finds Rhonda’s body in the dumpster.  Unfortunately, not only does she have to deal with the fact that Rob is coming closer and closer to finding her, Rhonda won’t be the last body at The Full Moon bringing Helen unwanted scrutiny by the local police.

While some reviews have criticized the ending as killing off the series, it is sufficiently vague to allow the series to continue as it has.  Beyond the fact that the series has continued with the recent release of “Clubbed To Death” and without going into detail, it should be clear to any reader that while the main events of this novel are resolved, the book on Rob is by no means closed.

What is also clear is that several earlier books are referred to in sufficient detail in this novel to make reading them rather pointless.  That is always a risk when one starts reading a series out of order and that is the case here with several detailed references to earlier books.

Since the series is new to me, this novel being the first I have read, I can’t address the overall consideration of the story arc across novels or development regarding the main character. Despite those issues as well as the ease that Helen seemingly moves through life with no identity and living a cash only existence, the novel itself is a comfortable enjoyable read. It moves fairly quickly and provides a case that will keep most readers guessing until the end.  As it entertains it also reminds readers of something very important – don’t lie on the bedspread.

Murder with Reservations: A Dead-End Job Mystery

Elaine Viets

New American Library/penguin Group

May 2007

ISBN# 978-0-451-22111-7


263 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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