Sunday, August 16, 2015

Death Under Glass - Jennifer McAndrews

Death Under Glass
A Stained-Glass Mystery
Jennifer McAndrews
Berkley Prime Crime
Georgia Kelly is starting to settle in to life in tiny Wenwood, NY.  She’s re-connected with some people she knew there during her childhood; she’s met and made some new friends, too.  One of these is Carrie, who runs an antique shop.  Georgia used her skills in creating stained glass designs to repair a Tiffany-style lamp for Carrie, and has a few pieces in the shop on consignment.  The next step, professionally and financially, is commissioned work.  Carrie is helping a local woman refurbish a new B&B; Georgia will be creating a stained glass piece for the front room.
The visit comes to an end when Carrie gets a phone call.  Her ex-husband, Russ, has a law office in the next town.  It’s on fire and likely a total loss.  Since no one can find Russ, and Carrie owns half the building, she needs to get there.  The place is likely a total loss.  Once she learns no one was inside, Carrie is mostly irritated at Russ for leaving her holding the bag.  The fire is quickly declared arson and the police begin working through a fairly extensive list of people who might wish ill on Russ.  The situation really heats up when Carrie and Georgia arrive at Carrie’s shop to find that it’s been broken into and ransacked.  The discovery of a body makes it clear: Someone is looking for something, and that person will stop at nothing to get it.
For my personal taste, there are too many instances here of Georgia simply being in the right (or wrong) place at the right time, or overhearing exactly the conversation she needs to hear to advance the plot.  Likewise, having the local police detective repeatedly warn her away from the case wears thing very quickly.  She’s not a reluctant sleuth at all; I guess I’d just like to see her be more proactive.  I can forgive the quibbles, though, because Georgia (and Ms. McAndrews) finally posed the question I have pondered for years.  In a reflective moment, Georgia wonders if the recent murder victims would still be alive had she not returned to Wenwood.  She asks, as I have often done:  “How does Jessica Fletcher live with herself?” 
This is the second installment in the series, following ILL-GOTTEN PANES.  New readers will have no problem beginning the series here, as the author fills in the required background.  This time around, the mystery seems fairly straightforward.  The emphasis is on further developing the characters.  In the first book, Georgia was a new transplant, and quite sure that her stay would be temporary.  Now, though, she’s starting to create a whole new life, making connections, and even attending town meetings.  If the talked-about development along the riverfront goes forward, it would bring in tourists and maybe make her stained glass work a viable livelihood.  It’s interesting
to see someone move to a small town that isn’t perfectly nice and bucolic.  It seems more real. 
Rating: 6
July 2015
ISBN# 978-0-425-26796-7 (paperback)


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