Cordy Abbott, Connie Berry, Trish Esden and Tracy Gardner
Hosted by John Charles
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Cordy Abbott. Dead Men Don’t Decorate (Crooked Lane, $28.99).
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Art, murder, and a secret dating back centuries collide in Cordy Abbott’s delightful cozy mystery series debut, perfect for fans of Jane K. Cleland.
Roberto Fratelli, proprietor of the antiques store Waited4You, is the meanest man in Marthasville, Virginia. So when he puts the business up for sale, the other merchants in town are overjoyed. And now the business has a prospective buyer: local resident and the newly elected mayor's mom, Camille Benson, who’s thrilled at the prospect of getting into the antiques business. During a celebration in honor of Camille’s new venture, her best friend, Opal, tells her about finding a letter, purportedly from Sally Fairfax to George Washington, dated 1756, hidden under a chair in the shop. When they return to retrieve the cache, they find Roberto’s lifeless body on the floor and no letter.
Police question Ella Coleman, Roberto’s ex-wife, and discover that her current husband supplied Roberto with oh-so-faux Victorian furniture. Did the two cheat the wrong customer? Or could the murder be connected to an earlier theft of rare books from the shop—a theft Roberto never reported?
As Camille prepares to confront these questions and investigate the murder, she knows she might become the latest knock-off.
Connie Berry. The Shadow of Memory (Crooked Lane, $26.99)
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In Connie Berry’s fourth Kate Hamilton mystery, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton uncovers a dark secret buried in Victorian England.
As Kate Hamilton plans her upcoming wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, she is also assisting her colleague Ivor Tweedy with a project at the Netherfield Sanatorium, which is being converted into luxury townhouses. Kate and Ivor must appraise a fifteenth-century painting and verify that its provenance is the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. But when retired criminal inspector Will Parker is found dead, Kate learns that the halls of the sanatorium housed much more than priceless art.
Kate is surprised to learn that Will had been the first boyfriend of her friend Vivian Bunn, who hasn’t seen him in fifty-eight years. At a seaside holiday camp over sixty years ago, Will, Vivian, and three other teens broke into an abandoned house where a doctor and his wife had died under bizarre circumstances two years earlier. Now, when a second member of the childhood gang dies unexpectedly—and then a third—it becomes clear that the teens had discovered more in the house than they had realized.
Had Will returned to warn his old love? When Kate makes a shocking connection between a sixty-year-old murder and the long-buried secrets of the sanatorium, she suddenly understands that time is running out for Vivian—and anyone connected to her.
Tracy Gardner. Peril at Pennington Manor (Crooked Lane, $26.99).
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Perfect for fans of Jane K. Cleland and Ellery Adams, the second volume in Tracy Gardner’s antiques-themed mystery series finds appraiser Avery Ayers sleuthing a murder in a castle.
Thanks to Aunt Midge’s unlikely friendship with Nicholas Pennington, the Duke of Valle Charme, Avery Ayers and her associates at Antiques and Artifacts Appraised head off to their most glamorous assignment yet—cataloguing and appraising the contents of a castle-like mansion on the Hudson River. But regal splendor becomes a backdrop to mayhem when the precious Viktor Petrova timepiece disappears—and housekeeper Suzanne Vick plummets from a parapet to her death.
Avery, her dad William, and colleagues Micah Abbott and Sir Robert Lane soon learn that Suzanne’s predecessor also met with an untimely end. Further, the housekeeper’s suspicious demise coincides with Avery’s discovery that many of the Duke’s most priceless heirlooms have been replaced by fakes.
Detective Art Smith lends his expertise, but the suspect list encompasses the Duke’s entire retinue—including his family. Could the killer be someone intimately familiar with the Pennington estate, such as caretaker couple Ira and Lynn Hoffman, the Penningtons’ chauffeur Roderick, or even one of the heirs to the Pennington fortune?
Then the duke himself is injured in an inexplicable riding accident, and the clock swiftly ticks toward a reckoning with a cold-blooded killer. A criminal mastermind is making a desperate bid for ill-gotten riches…can Avery bring the culprit to justice before her time is up?
Trish Esden. The Art of the Decoy (Crooked Lane, $26.99).
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Perfect for fans of Jane K. Cleland and Connie Berry, Tricia Esden's series debut is sure to please.
After her mother is sent to prison for art forgery, Edie Brown returns to Northern Vermont to rebuild her family’s fine art and antiques business. She’s certain she can do it now that her mother is gone. After all, butting heads with her mom over bad business practices was what drove Edie away three years ago, including a screwup that landed Edie on probation for selling stolen property.
When Edie scores a job appraising a waterfowl decoy collection at a hoarder’s farmhouse, she’s determined to take advantage of the situation to rebuild the business’s tarnished reputation and dwindling coffers. In lieu of payment, Edie intends to cherry-pick an exceptional decoy carved by the client’s renowned Quebecoise folk artist ancestors. Only the tables turn when the collection vanishes.
Accused of the theft, Edie’s terrified that the fallout will destroy the business and land her in prison next to her mom. Desperate, she digs into the underbelly of the local antiques and art world. When Edie uncovers a possible link between the decoy theft and a deadly robbery at a Quebec museum, she longs to ask her ex-probation officer, and ex-lover, for help. But she suspects his recent interest in rekindling their romance may hide a darker motive.
With the help of her eccentric uncle Tuck and Kala, their enigmatic new employee, Edie must risk all she holds dear to expose the thieves and recover the decoys before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the ruthless thieves themselves catch up with her.
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