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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review - Silent Auction

Well here we are into the eighth month of the year.  Just one more month and it will be a year since this blog started!  So much has happened and I never expected how this blog would take off.  Time really does fly!  We are starting this hot August in New Hampshire with murder among antiques.

Author: Jane K Cleland

Copyright: April 2010 (Minotaur); 291 pgs

Series: # 5 in Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Josie Prescott, Antiques appraiser and dealer

Setting: Modern day Rocky Point, New Hampshire

Obtained book through: Library

Josie arrives at a lighthouse estate to begin an appraisal of the maritime collection when she stumbles over the dead body of Frankie, the lighthouse caretaker.  Frankie has been bludgeoned with a rolling pin.  Frankie was also her dear friend ZoĆ«'s nephew who had turned his life around and was working his dream job and finding happiness.  As the police start investigating Josie is asked to assist in her official capacity.  One of the antiques, a rare scrimshaw tooth, is missing from the collection.  When suspicion falls on Frankie, suggesting that he was involved Josie takes it as a personal mission to see that justice is done to the killer. 

This mystery manages to work Josie into the investigation as a consultant to the police rather than competing with the police as many go.  This adds a realistic touch to the story.  Josie is an interesting and intelligent main character with a lot of compassion and a playful side.  I enjoyed her and want to get to know her better.

The plotting revolves to a big extent around the missing antique scrimshaw tooth so readers get a good amount of information on it.  Scrimshaw is the name given to the artwork crafted by whalers at sea, using the ivory, bone and baleen of captured whales. The most familiar type of scrimshaw is a sperm whale tooth engraved with pictures.  You also learn a good deal about the antiques business and what is involved to authenticate items.  I think it was just enough to explain the plot with antiques fraud without giving you a full education in it.
All the shades were up.  A window was open on the ground floor to the left of the back door.  Ashley must be airing the place out, I thought, now that the Whitestones have returned to New York City.  There was no sign of Frankie.

I approached the back door and knocked.  The latch hadn't quite caught, and the door swung wide.  I stepped into the mudroom.  In front of me,  the inner door was ajar.  Little hairs on th eback of my neck rose as disquiet grew into fear...

I took a small step forward and entered the kitchen.  I ws standing on the ceramic tiles the Whitestones had imported from Italy .  It was was cold, too cold, much colder than outside.  It was quiet, too, the thick solitary sound of emptiness.  I took another step, then stopped short.

There, sprawled on the floor, partially hidden by the central island lay a body.
The new police chief is a pleasant surprise and promises to be a great new recurring character.  Josie's boyfriend Ty isn't in this novel much and I enjoyed what scenes he was in.  I had not read any of the prior novels and this stands alone well.

I really enjoyed this mystery and I think it is good for readers who like a sleuth who is a professional with her life in order who is legitimately helping to catch a killer.

 And now for a summer recipe:
Easy Cherry Cobler
* 1 (15 ounce) can pitted tart red cherries, drained with liquid reserved (can use mixed berries etc)
* 1/2 cup white sugar for fruit (Sugar substitute is possible)
* 1 cup buttermilk baking mix (light Bisquick is possible)
* 1/2 cup white sugar for batter (Sugar substitute is possible)
* 1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare a 9x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Stir the liquid from the cherries and 1/2 cup sugar together in a small glass bowl; heat in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
3. Stir the baking mix, 1/2 cup sugar, and milk together in a separate small bowl; mix until you get a moist batter. Spread the mixture in an even layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread the cherries evenly over the batter. Slowly pour the cherry juice over the cherries.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
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