Friday, May 21, 2021

Shadows at the Fair & Key Lime Crime: Quick Reviews

Reviews by Jeanne

Shadows at the Fair by Lea Wait

Maggie Summer, owner of Shadow Antiques, is looking forward to the Spring Antiques Fair.  She sells antique prints and has enjoyed this particular festival for the last several years.  Not only has it been a good money maker, but she knows many of the participants from years past.

This year security is tighter than usual, because a dealer was poisoned at another recent event, but Maggie isn’t worried.  Not until another dealer turns up dead. . .

This is the first in the Antique Print Mystery series, and the first mystery for Lea Wait.  I have enjoyed her other books so I decided to give this series a try. I was not disappointed.  I like Wait’s strong and complex lead character Maggie, the well-developed supporting cast, and the fascinating bits of information I pick up along the way. Wait was an antiques dealer from a family of dealers, so she knows all the ins and outs of collecting, evaluation, and selling. 

Even more importantly, she knows the value of pacing and plotting to keep the story moving along.  I especially liked the way she portrayed one character who, although having intellectual challenges, is shown to be independent and capable.   It’s no wonder that this was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Debut Mystery.

I’ll definitely be reading more in this series.



The Key Lime Crime by Lucy Burdette is the tenth in the Key West Food Critic Mystery series.  Newly married Hayley Snow has her hands full with reporting on a major foodie event, one which will crown the best Key Lime Pie in Key West.  Naturally, all the local eateries are trying to win the title and wealthy show sponsor David Sloan is egging everyone on to create a major event when Key West is already in full swing with holiday celebrants clogging the streets and creating more chaos than usual.  Hayley’s husband, police detective Nathan Bransford, is having to pull extra shifts to try to keep things calm.

So of course Hayley’s new mother-in-law decides to pay a visit. Already intimidated by Mrs. Bransford, who apparently adored Nathan’s ex-wife, Hayley tries to go all out to show her a good time.  It does not go well.  Mrs. Bransford doesn’t seem to enjoy any of the things Key West has to offer, especially not Key Lime Pie.

And then they find a dead body. . . .

The mystery is well done, but I am one of those “fair play” readers and for me too much information is withheld until near the end-- which is also the case with some of the other titles.  That said, I love the setting and atmosphere which makes up for the lack of real clues.  Key West is a quirky place, and I really enjoy getting what seems like an “insider’s view” of the people, problems, and most especially the places to eat.  Burdette likes to use real people as characters in her books—there is indeed a David Sloan!—and gives some interesting insights into the locals versus tourist situation.  Her love for the place shines through the pages.  Definitely read if you like Key West or if you plan a trip there.

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