Die Buying: a mall cop mystery by Laura DiSilverio
Former military cop Emma-Joy “EJ” Harris earned an honourable discharge when an IED injures her leg. Rejected by the civilian police forces she applied to, and unable to live with her Hollywood rich family, she winds up moving to Veronville (state unknown; it’s probably mentioned in the text somewhere, but I can’t find it and it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s not too far from Washington DC) where she can keep an eye on her aging, ex-CIA grandfather (who is determined to keep his touch when it comes to spying on people) and is offered a job at the Fernglen Galleria Mall. It’s law enforcement of a sort, and she makes friends and enemies quickly both in the community and among the other mall cops. But at least the job lets her use a Segway to get around (bad leg, remember?).
When the novel starts, someone has broken into the Herpetology Hut and released all the reptiles, including Agatha, a 15-foot python. And then a customer spots a naked dead man in the window of a fashionable boutique. Local hardass cop Anders Helland seems determined to dismiss EJ as nothing more than another Mall Cop, so she sets out to do her own investigation. The dead man was an unpopular developer and a wide number of people had possible motivations to kill him. Can EJ solve the case before Helland does, and especially before anyone else gets killed?
I liked EJ, I loved her Grandfather, I liked her friends, and I even liked Helland (with whom EJ might have a flash of heat). The mystery was tricky and I didn’t solve it first. There’s a lot to like here and I think I’ll go forward with this series, but I am worried that the setting limits what can be done in terms of interesting crimes (though this one does include both the Herpetological heist and a case of graffitists tagging cars in the parking garage with religious messages–both cases fit into the main mystery in creative ways). Mildly recommended.
The Skinner by Neal Asher
A re-read. First covered here. Still recommended.