The Art of the Decoy (A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery) by Trish Esden – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“Open by chance or appointment.”

Book Blurb:

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.

The Art of the Decoy by Trish EsdenWhen 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.

My Review:

Protagonist Edie Brown has grown up in the family’s fine art and antiques business. Unfortunately, her mother landed in the slammer for art forgery, implicating Edie in the process for which Edie paid with probation for selling said property.

Now she is back in Northern Vermont to take over the business with a little help from uncle Tuck. In the meantime, Tuck has hired an employee, Kala, a computer whiz and otherwise smart dynamo—perfect addition to the faltering business.  When she is approached with a waterfowl decoy that may be the tip of an iceberg, Edie sees a huge possibility in scoring a collection from a hoarder’s farmhouse with hopes of securing lucrative auctioning rights.

“For me, researching folk art was like setting a beagle free in a park full of squirrels.”

The Art of the Decoy by Trish EsdenBut Edie may get a taste of the business that she had failed to perceive when her mother got into trouble. The art and antiquing community holds those who would turn a multi-million dollar find into underworld funds without interest in the beauty or history of the exquisite folk art carving.

Edie definitely gets in over her head as she fails to ignore warnings, including one from an ex-lover (who she’d love to make a current lover). While I had a few problems getting into Edie’s head, I appreciated several other main characters including Kala and Shane. There is more than one antagonist, a murder off page, the craft of antiquing, and descriptions of the area and proximity to Canada.

For a debut novel and the first in the series, the author appears to have set up quite the storyline as well as several remarkable characters. Definitely a good start and an interesting introduction to the world of buying, trading, pricing and selling of antiques. The well-plotted narrative, however, tends to sag a bit and do a repeat of motives, slowing the pace. It might have kept a heightened interest by fewer repeats and a bit more fleshing of Edie. Also, going forward, I’ll be interested to see where the relationship with Shane goes, as well as additional background into Kala’s character.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts. Currently on pre-order.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Small Town & Rural Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B098PXZNDF
Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):
Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Trish Esden - authorThe Author: Trish Esden loves museums, gardens, wilderness, dogs and birds, in various order depending on the day. She lives in Northern Vermont where she deals antiques with her husband, a profession she’s been involved with since her teens. Don’t ask what her favorite type of antique is. She loves hunting down old bottles and rusty barn junk as much as she enjoys fine art and furnishings. Trish is the author of the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

To Die but Once: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear – #Audiobook Review

To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear
(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

Spring 1940. With Britons facing what has become known as “the Bore War” – nothing much seems to have happened yet – Maisie Dobbs is asked to investigate the disappearance of a local lad, a young apprentice craftsman working on a “hush-hush” government contract. As Maisie’s inquiry reveals a possible link to the London underworld, another mother is worried about a missing son – but this time the boy in question is one beloved by Maisie.

My Review:

Book fourteen in this series and my first, so I came in listening to the audiobook as a standalone and had no problem keeping up. There are sufficient backstory tidbits along the way to provide fleshing and an appreciation for her character.

To Die but Once by Jacqueline WinspearMaisie Dobbs was a nurse in WWI and subsequently trained to be a psychologist and investigator following that war. This story takes place in 1940 with Great Britain once again at war with Germany and several subplots tied to and underlying the main focus.

First, Maisie is hired to investigate the disappearance of a young boy, Joseph Combes, who succeeded in finding work for a company with a government contract. Set in the background are Dunkirk and the pending possible invasion.

Also in the background is a family drama (her own possible adoption of a young girl) and the spy hiding in plain sight.

A low-key start to the audiobook gradually begins pulling plot threads together until they weave interchangeably throughout the narrative. While the beginning is rather slow moving, the well-plotted novel hooks the reader into the discovery of the dark side of war, those who would reap huge monetary rewards from the military conflict. So sad, but so true of every war, unfortunately, that impacts many more lives over those in the actual conflict.

The personal losses stemming from the battles do not go unnoticed either and there are emotional scenes regarding the population and their individual handling of grave circumstances. The author movingly incorporates her own experiences as she describes the desolation and sacrifices.

A great historical novel along with the mystery was well drawn and satisfying in the conclusion. I was engaged and entertained and can recommend to any who enjoys detective stories (even with a slow build-up) authentically mixed with history.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, Historical Mysteries, Women Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B077NHKTP6
Listening Length: 10 hrs 29 mins
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: To Die but Once [Amazon] 

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

 

Jacqueline Winspear - authorThe Author: Jacqueline Winspear is the creator of the New York Times and National Bestselling series featuring psychologist and investigator, Maisie Dobbs. Her first novel – Maisie Dobbs – received numerous awards nominations, including the Edgar Award for Best Novel and the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. It was a New York Times Notable Book and a Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten Pick.“ Jacqueline’s “standalone” novel set in WW1, The Care and Management of Lies, was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2015. In 2019 The American Agent, her 16th novel, was published, along with a non-fiction book based upon the Maisie Dobbs’ series, What Would Maisie Do? Originally from the UK, Jacqueline now lives in northern California.

 

Orlagh Cassidy - narratorThe Narrator: Orlagh is an American actress, both parents from Dublin, Ireland. She works in Theatre, Television and Film and has recorded numerous award winning audiobooks and commercials. She can be seen in ‘St. Vincent’ with Bill Murray as well many guest starring roles on ‘Homeland’, ‘Billions’, ‘Good Wife’, ‘Elementary’ and ‘The Mysteries Of Laura’. She has worked in New York theatre at MTC, The Public Theatre, MCC, Origin Theatre Company and The Irish Rep where she received a Drama Desk nomination for the role of ‘Mamie’ in the ‘The Field’ in 2007. She is a recipient of The Princess Grace Foundation Award and has a BFA from SUNY Purchase.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

Coming Soon – My reviews for these Exciting Books currently on the #TBR

#comingsoon - my December reads

So many great books on tap this month, I singled out just six to highlight upcoming books on my #TBR.

While there doesn’t appear to be Christmas books on this list, you may still find just the book you are looking for (including two audiobooks) in this wide variety of genres. I’m including a short (in most cases, excerpt) blurb and the cover links will take you to the Amazon listing. Check them out!

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall by Liane MoriartyDomestic Thrillers, Suspense, Family Life Fiction

Listening Length: 18 hrs 3 mins

Released: September 14, 2021

From Liane Moriarty, the number one New York Times best-selling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, an audiobook that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other….

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

I finished this audiobook a week ago. I can understand why this was a (final) nominee for Mystery and Thriller in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021. My review on Thursday, Dec. 16.

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The Great Witch of Brittany: A Novel by Louisa Morgan

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa MorganHistorical Fantasy, Magical Realism, Women’s Fantasy Fiction

Print Length: 446 pages

To be Released: February 15, 2022

Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchière and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her. 

Brittany, 1762

There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.

A tale of magic and fate, triumph and heartbreak, and the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters unfolds in the late 1700s in this spellbinding novel from master storyteller, Louisa Morgan.

The author weaves a hypnotic tale of the arts in the seventeenth century. I greatly enjoyed A Secret History of Witches and in April, 2020, The Age of Witches, and I’m excited to jump into her new book to be released early next year—currently on pre-order. My review scheduled for Dec 19.

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Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door (A Jane Darrowfield Mystery Book 2) by Barbara Ross

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door by Barbara RossCozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries

Print Length: 250 pages

To be Released: December 28, 2021

Jane Darrowfield is using her retirement years to work as a professional busybody, with most of her business coming from her West Cambridge, Massachusetts, community. This time her client is right next door . . .
Megan, who’s purchased the house next to Jane’s, needs some help from her snooping neighbor. Megan’s been having blackouts, hearing voices—and feeling like someone’s following her. Are these symptoms of an illness—or signs that she’s in danger?

I enjoy the author’s Maine Clambake Mystery series including this year Shucked Apart, and Professional Busybody Book 1 of this new series in an audiobook. Enjoyable, easy, fun, and fast reading. My review scheduled for Dec 24.

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Targeted (Bob Lee Swagger Novel Book 12) by Stephen Hunter

Targeted by Stephen HunterAssassination Thrillers, Political Thrillers & Suspense

Print Length: 384 pages

To be Released: January 18, 2022

After his successful takedown of a dangerous terrorist, Bob Lee Swagger learns that no good deed goes unpunished. Summoned to court by the United States Congress, Swagger is accused of reckless endangerment by a hardheaded anti-gun congresswoman. But what begins as political posturing soon turns deadly when the auditorium where the committee is being held is attacked…

A CE review scheduled for tomorrow, Dec 10.

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The Last House on the Street: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain

The Last House on the Street by Diane ChamberlainWomen’s Historical Fiction, Mothers & Children Fiction, Family Life Fiction

Print Length: 346 pages

To be Released: January 11, 2022

A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.

My review scheduled for Dec 12

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The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear

The American Agent by Jacqueline WinspearWorld War II Historical Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Women Sleuth Mysteries

Listening Length: 11 hrs 2 mins

Beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs, “one of the great fictional heroines” (Parade), investigates the mysterious murder of an American war correspondent in London during the Blitz in a pause-resisting tale of love and war, terror and survival.

When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. He is accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice – Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie get out of Hitler’s Munich in 1938. MacFarlane asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon’s death.

Fresh from a raving review of the audiobook by a blogger buddy, I discovered a copy in my wonderful, well-stocked local library. My review on Dec 30.

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See any here that you’ve either read or will want to read? Winners all, NYTimes bestselling authors several, favorite authors, and stories you don’t want to miss. I can highly recommend both audiobooks mentioned above and I know Ms. Morgan’s book will have my head swimming in fantasy soon. I can’t wait.

©2021 V Williams V Williams-Christmas hat

Autumn reading time

All the Devils Are Here: A Novel: Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Book 16 by Louise Penny – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

The 16th novel by #1 bestselling author Louise Penny finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec investigating a sinister plot in the City of Light

On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.

It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.

A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.

Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.

For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.

My Review:

I know I was supposed to love this book but truthfully had a difficult time keeping an ear on my cell phone earbud and/or my little portable speaker. Goodness. I was so lost!

My fault, obviously, for trying (once again) to jump into a beloved series at Book 16 no less where the reader was supposed to know who all the players were and why.

All the Devils Are Here by Louise PennyGamache and his wife, Reine-Marie is supposed to be in Paris to celebrate the birth of a grandchild—and visit with the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache’s godfather.  Certainly out of their Three Pines, Quebec element, but seems no problem as they search Paris high and low for the person who plowed into his godfather, Stephen Horowitz following their dinner. Intensionally.

The plot seemed all over the board from priceless art to corporate crimes, getting deeper and deeper into rare earth minerals. Meanwhile, Horowitz comes under scrutiny for his possible WWII activities. Wayyy too much going on for this device to work for me. Would it please just settle on one, or even two, main plot points?

Gamache routinely bounces all his theories off his wife, who manages to insert some calming sense into each, after a man is found murdered in Stephen’s Paris apartment.

I greatly enjoyed the narrator, managing voices and French pronunciations with ease, sliding effortlessly over the Paris street names, restaurants, foods, and attractions. The author includes some harrowing tidbits and facts about the fanatical post WWII Paris atmosphere that unsettles—lost in some of the more horrific stories and pictures of the time. (I still marvel that there are any monuments left standing and weep over the loss of Notre Dame in the fire of April 2019. I will never forget our singing experience there and am amazed at their restoration progress.)

Of the immediate family characters, including Daniel their son, I most enjoyed Reine-Marie as being authentic. At Book 16, I’m quite sure I’ve missed the all-important development of Armand but coming into a city not of his domain and taking on the investigation seemed a bit sleuthish, especially given the extent of this plot. He has no authority; how much latitude would he be allowed by the Paris authorities?

Thinking I’ll try another Louise Penny book, but not sure it will be Book 17 of this series. Any of you die-hard Canadian author readers read this series? Did you also have a problem with this narrative?

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ASIN: B0842XLN7Z
Listening Length: 13 hrs 59 mins
Narrator: Robert Bathurst
Publication Date: Sept 1, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: All the Devils Are Here [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Louise Penny - authorThe Author: LOUISE PENNY is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

Robert Bathhurst - narratorThe Narrator: Robert Guy Bathurst (born 22 February 1957) is an English actor. Bathurst was born in Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1957. In 1959 his family moved to Ballybrack, Dublin, Ireland and Bathurst attended school in Killiney, later enrolled in an Irish boarding school. He is married to Victoria Threlfall and they have four daughters. [Wikipedia]

 

 

©2021 V Williams V Williams

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