Monday, August 11, 2014

Ill-Gotten Panes - Jennifer McAndrews

Ill-Gotten Panes
A Stained-Glass Mystery
Jennifer McAndrews
Berkley Prime Crime
Not long ago, Georgia Kelly was living her dream in the big city.  She had a great job as an accountant in an investment banking firm.  Until her firm was caught up in scandal and the job disappeared, along with a lot of her confidence.  Continuing with this roll, her boyfriend “invited” her to move out of their shared apartment.  Georgia did the only thing she could: she retreated to her grandfather Pete’s home in tiny Wenwood, New York.  From there, she’s planning to do a bit of healing and find a way to start again.
Living in a small town is not really to her taste, and she misses the fast pace of the big city terribly.  But there’s action in small towns, too.  A developer is trying to turn the brickworks (the town’s claim to fame and former employer of most of the town) into a marina to cater to tourists.  Financially, it seems a sound decision, but a lot of townspeople have a very emotional attachment to the brickworks and oppose the project.  Opinions are heated, and Georgia stumbles into a big argument between Mr. Edgers, who runs the local hardware store, and the developer.  Later, Mr. Edgers is found dead in his store.  He’d been hit over the head with a Wenwood brick.  Unfortunately, Pete was also heard arguing with Mr. Edgers just before his death, and becomes a prime suspect. 
While the circumstances seem familiar – heroine relocates from big city to small town – the author makes them feel new.  In this case, Georgia is homesick for the city.  And the inhabitants of the small town are somewhat less than welcoming to her, even though she spent part of her childhood there.  It’s a refreshingly not-rosy twist on small town life.  That said, the inhabitants seem to have good reasons for their actions and attitudes.  They’re individuals who are reacting (some better than others) to a murder in their midst.
The mystery is well plotted with some interesting twists.  The local history is unavoidably tied up in the murder and the reasons for it.  Since the book is written in first-person, it’s fun to follow Georgia on her investigation and ‘listen in’ on her real opinions.   She’s intelligent, witty, and doing her best to act like a grown-up, even in the presence of her grandfather.  Not always an easy feat.  Their relationship seems absolutely realistic.  Obviously, there’s more to come, but this is a very solid start to a mystery series.
Rating: 7
July 2014
ISBN# 978-0-425-26795-0 (paperback)


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