Reviewed by Jeanne
Antiques appraiser Josie Prescott is called to the home of a wealthy couple to evaluate what may be a Tiffany lamp. She’s greeted graciously by a woman who introduces herself as Ava Belcher. The lamp belongs to her husband and is a family heirloom. Josie examines the lamp and finds, much to her delight, the lamp appears genuine: if so, it could command a selling price of $1.5 million. The discovery would also elevate Josie’s standing in the antiques community, making her one of the few to ever authenticate a Tiffany lamp.
A few days later, Ava Belcher is found murdered at her home. Josie is on the scene, and, since she had spoken with Ava recently, is asked to identify the body while the police try to locate Mr. Belcher. There’s just one problem: Josie doesn’t recognize this woman.
I know I can always count on Jane Cleland for a good mystery tale with plot twists, information about antiques and collectibles, and clues enough to enable me to solve the murder if I pay attention. I like having an author who plays fair with her readers. This time around, I learned a lot about Tiffany lamps and about marbles—yes, the kind you shoot—as well as a lesson on valuation, which looks at several variables: condition, provenance, rarity, scarcity, popularity, and association. All of this is done in a painless manner without slowing down the story.
I also like Josie herself, a smart, independent woman who can make decisions with her head as well as her heart. She’s a shrewd CEO with high ethical standards. She also has a nifty boyfriend and a stable relationship, which makes a nice change from the “heroine trying to choose between two beaus” motif that has become so prevalent in cozy mystery fiction. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a Maine Coon cat in the mix as well.
If you’re looking for a good, solid mystery with a strong female lead and like learning some things along the way, this is a great choice. I always look forward to the next in the series.