Archive for 'Cleland, Jane K.'
Josie Prescott, antique appraiser and auctioneer, is back in her second outing, DEADLY APPRAISAL. Josieâ€™s auction house is the site of the Portsmouth Womenâ€™s Guild Annual Black and Gold Gala and Josie is flushed with the success of the event and has high hopes for the future business the event will generate for her, when Maisy Gaylor drops over dead in the middle of the event. Maisy was given a fast-acting poison by someone who had access to her wineglass at the event and Josie immediately falls under suspicion. But, since her glass was near Maisyâ€™s, it is also possible that she was the intended victim.
In the days after the Gala, Josie is squeezed from all sides as the police question her, a local reporter capitalizes on the gruesome crime to make a name for himself, and she tries to keep her business going. Since she knows she didnâ€™t commit the murder, Josie becomes suspicious of her employees and friends and investigates their backgrounds to try to find the murderer herself. And, at the same time, she tries to be supportive for her boyfriend who is dealing with the final illness of an out-of-town relative by concealing the situation from him when she could really use a shoulder to cry on herself.
The â€œmurder in plain sightâ€ plot is an old favorite of mystery lovers. But its success depends upon one important factor â€“ that the reader is as mystified by the crime as the literary characters. Unfortunately, this isnâ€™t the case in DEADLY APPRAISAL. It is immediately and painfully obvious who the killer is. I spent the whole book watching Josie and the police pile up the evidence against the killer, wondering why it was taking them so long and why they were so obtuse. I suppose this is the feeling those bizarre people who read the last chapter of a book first have when they read the rest of the book. But I found the experience very unrewarding.
The good news is that Cleland had created an interesting environment and good characters. Any writer can make a plotting misstep and be forgiven by readers as long as the foundations of the series are strong and the characters have a more satisfactory outing the next time.
Favorite character? Josieâ€™s quiet employee, Fred. Did I guess it? Yes. Will I read another? Yes.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007