Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Killing In Antiques - Mary Moody

A Killing In Antiques
A Lucy St. Elmo Antiques Mystery
Mary Moody
It’s the first day of Brimfield, the Event of the antique dealer’s year.  Actually, it’s only the pre-dawn darkness before the first day.  Lucy St. Elmo is there, along with hundreds of her closest friends in the business.  Brimfield is a sea of tents set up in a series of fields.  Dealers line up for the early opening, then rush through the vendors, always on the lookout for that hidden gem or great deal.

This morning, however, is different.  By lunchtime, the word is everywhere: well-known dealer Monty Rondo is dead.  He was discovered at the edge of one of the fields.  He’d been strangled by a strip of lace, of all things.  First under suspicion is Monty’s sort-of partner, a furniture refinisher known as Silent Billy.  Since Billy is strange, he’s the obvious choice of culprit, but Lucy knows he couldn’t possibly have done it.  Monty had been in the business for years, and didn’t have the best reputation.  Almost everyone roaming the fields might have had a motive.  Lucy’s husband disapproves of her investigative leanings, but Lucy decides that there’s nothing wrong with simply gathering information if it will free an innocent man.

This is the first in a new series, and it shows a lot of promise.  There are many references to Lucy’s previous investigations, including one that ended up with her being shot in the… left hip.  It was that incident that really put her college professor husband off the amateur sleuth train.  I feel sure that we’ll be hearing more about these previous cases in future installments.
It’s a lot of fun to follow Lucy around Brimfield to vicariously ‘see’ the various antiques and wares on display.  There are even some tips for collectors included at the end.  It’s more difficult to really get into the murder mystery, though, since it happens completely ‘off camera’ and to a character the reader has never met.  The addition of a new daughter-in-law as a possible future cohort is a nice touch and a great way to connect with readers who are neophyte or armchair collectors.  The antique shopping and investigating balance out nicely, though, and in the end the mystery is solved in a satisfying, if somewhat far-fetched way. 
Rating: 6 ½
July 2011
ISBN#  978-0-451-2318-6  (paperback)


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