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Four moon gifDell Publishing, ISBN 0-440-23620-7
Rule 1. When hanging out with strippers, never lend them your hairspray.

Rule 2. Never -- no matter how hunky they are -- lend a stripper your eyeliner. Even if they flex their muscles and say pretty please.

Book: Elaine Viets, Doc in the BoxSo Francesca Vierling learns when assigned by Charlie, the BFH (Boss From Hell), to write about a day in the life of a stripper for The St. Louis City Gazette. But the inventive Francesca turns Charlie's scheme on its head and finds a piece of eyecandy who revels in the stage name of Leo D. Nardo. After all, Charlie didn't specify the gender of the stripper…

Truth be told, Francesca needs something to take her mind off her personal life. It looks as if steady boyfriend Lyle walked out of Francesca's life forever after their latest fight over commitment -- or rather Francesca's terror of making one. And even worse, Georgia, Francesca's mentor and friend at The Gazette, is slowly deteriorating before Francesca's eyes. Georgia battles against an enemy even more insidious than Charlie and the owners of The Gazette -- cancer.

Things begin to heat up, however, when the male stripper goes missing and a triple murder takes place during one of Georgia's chemo sessions. No one really laments the passing of the three victims. The clinic receptionist reveled in being rude and nasty, the therapist ignored patients in favor of flirting with the receptionist, and the doctor sported a bedside manner that Vlad Tepes would envy. Fortunately, though incomprehensibly, the killer spares Georgia.

Book: Elaine Viets, Pink Flamingo MurdersThen another doctor dies, and Francesca lands in the middle of more diversion than she can handle. Who was the old woman that witnesses say Leo spoke to before he disappeared? And why is someone taking potshots at Francesca? Before you can say "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning," Francesca finds herself not only investigating the murders but also trying to avoid being the next victim on the killer's list.

In Doc in the Box, Elaine Viets once again brings St. Louis and its inhabitants to vivid life. Along the way she provides biting commentary on the medical profession and the sometimes callous caregivers who treat patients more like dollar signs than people suffering mentally and physically from debilitating (and sometimes fatal) diseases. Funny, insightful and thoroughly enjoyable, I highly recommend Doc in the Box to mystery fans -- and even those readers that aren't.

But I do have one urgent request. Elaine, if you ever need to research male strippers again, can I hang out with you too? I promise to bring along a brand new eyeliner…

Teri Smith (nee Dohmen)

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