Monday, November 24, 2008

Pane Of Death - Sarah Atwell


Pane Of Death
A Glassblowing Mystery
Sarah Atwell
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery

Emmeline (Em) Dowell doesn’t regret for a moment leaving the world of a New York stockbroker. She’s happy in Tucson, running her glass shop, Shards, making her own glass pieces and teaching students. When retired software millionaire Peter Ferguson asks for her help in placing several large stained glass windows in his new home, she’s delighted, but a bit confused. Confused, because fellow artisan/competitor Maddy Sheffield actually does the asking, and Maddy and Em have never been friendly before this.

Regardless, seeing window-sized pieces of glass art by renowned masters up close quickly overrides all other concerns as Em enthusiastically joins the project. When the last panel is delivered, Peter invites Em to his home again to see it. As she’s done before, she drives through his high tech security to the house. Arriving at the front door, though, she’s surprised to see that it’s open. Inside, Peter lies dead on the floor, stabbed with a piece of glass. And all the art pieces are gone. It would have taken more than one person quite a while to properly pack and transport that much glasswork. So was the motive robbery or murder?

Em is seeing the chief of police at the time of the crime. He wants to run the investigation by the book, to avoid the look of any impropriety. Of course, there’d be no story if Em were able to stay out of it entirely, but it’s odd that a forty-something woman would be unable to understand his priorities and wage a running battle over it. There’s some nice misdirection during the middle part of the novel, but, ultimately, I was able to guess the outcome with little difficulty. The information presented here about glass as art is fascinating. Much of this is woven into the narrative, and some is presented in a separate section at the end of the story. It’s well worth reading, and adds an interesting dimension to a murder mystery.

Rating: 7
November 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-22501-1 (paperback)

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