Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Fatal Appraisal - J. B. Stanley

A Fatal Appraisal
A Collectible Mystery
J. B. Stanley
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery/ Cozy

The moment Molly Appleby, staff writer for “Collector’s Weekly,” arrives in Richmond to cover a taping of the hit TV antiques show, “Hidden Treasures,” it’s clear that this assignment isn’t going to be dull. For a start, a china collector owns the bed-and-breakfast where she, and many of the visiting appraisers are staying. Each of the beautiful rooms is named for, and decorated with, a particular type of china. Arriving at the taping location, a museum, Molly quickly learns that divas thrive in all professions.

Frank Sterling, the head appraiser, works with antique furniture, but claims he’s allergic to dust. While various pieces are being cleaned, he shows Molly a blanket chest, and what will be the centerpiece of the show, an almost perfect slant-top desk, made in Colonial days. Victoria, the host of the show, is openly hostile to Frank. Turns out, they’re married. When Frank turns up dead, Molly has a feeling that the desk is the key to finding his killer.

This second installment actually it surpasses the first book (A KILLER COLLECTION) in the series. The characters are a varied and eclectic bunch. As a group of people who work together on a regular basis, there are plenty of interrelationships to keep things interesting. The characters who populate the office of “Collector’s Weekly” add an extra layer of office intrigue. I hope we see more of Clayton, the Queen of Classifieds, in future books. Readers with even a casual interest in collecting and antiques will enjoy this engaging mystery; and the author provides tips on collecting, to those who are more serious about it. I’m looking forward to more.

Rating: 7 ½
October 2006
ISBN# 0-425-21264-5 (paperback)


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