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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review - Fundraising the Dead

Here is the first review for the new year. I am looking forward to this year. I never would have guessed how 2010 would have unfolded. But I have some specific goals for this year that I am pursuing steadily. I trust your goals are attainable and you realize a dream or two in this year before us.

This week we are in Philadelphia for murder among historical antiquities and old wealthy families in a series debut. What better city than Philly for history and sleuthing?

Author: Sheila Connolly

Copyright: October 2010 (Berkley Books) 336 pgs

Series: 1st in Museum Mysteries

Sensuality: mild adult references

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Character:  Eleanor (Nell) Pratt, Fundraiser for The Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques

Setting: Current day Philadelphia

Obtained Through: publisher for honest review

Nell loves her job.  To Nell she is doing her part to preserve our heritage.  Of course every job has its less desirable aspects and Nell is swept up into the political minefield when influential board member Marty Terwilliger informs Nell that her family's historical document collection that was donated has an important letter from George Washington missing. Marty is adamant that something be done immediately.  

Marty's timing couldn't be worse - only hours before an important gala fundraiser.  But Nell takes a few moments to discuss the situation with Alfred who is cataloging all the massive collections they have.  Alfred confides that he has noticed other important documents that appear to be missing.  All are items that would bring a high price from black market collectors.  By morning Alfred is found dead.  The police declare it an accident. 

Additionally, the Society's President, suave and charming Charles Worthington slow rolls addressing the missing documents.   These developments rile Marty Terwiller who was related to Alfred and believes it was murder... and connected to the missing documents.  Nell and Marty form an unlikely partnership and Marty drags her cousin, FBI Special Agent James Morrison into their plotting since stealing historical artifacts is the FBI's realm. 

Nell is a competent, intelligent, self-sufficient and yet vulnerable character.  She is your average woman in looks which makes her easy to identify with.  But she also has an element of hutzpa that we all desire in ourselves which makes her character perfect for a sleuthing series.  Marty is an assertive and influential woman who makes a good friend to Nell.  I hope this character continues in the next book because she is great as the likable but loud and pushy side kick (or is that instigator?)   Even Agent Morrison shines as a competent agent trying to crack the case while keeping Nell and Marty out of trouble.  Could Agent Morrison be a potential love interest down the road?

The plot was solid.  The only potential glitch was why a Board Member would seek out the fundraiser regarding a missing item rather than the collections director.  Marty says it is because she knew Nell would take it seriously.  Through most of the book the culprit is known but it is a matter of building up evidence and a case.  There was one twist at the end and Nell finds herself in real peril.  This story has enough of the real world without being dark or pessimistic.  The wrap up even had change for Nell's career that will make the next book eagerly awaited to see how she fairs.

This is a stellar debut novel and I expect this new series to rapidly garner a fan base - and deservedly so.  I had reviewed Ms. Connoly's latest Orchard Mystery that I enjoyed, but this new series has won me over!

And now for your Superbowl party, try these easy and different dips.

Margarita Dip
Serve with fresh fruit, Nilla wafers, pound cake, or angel food cake


    * 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    * 1/3 cup frozen margarita mix, thawed
    * 2 tablespoons orange juice
    * 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    * 1/4 cup whipped cream


   1. Use an electric mixer to beat the softened cream cheese, margarita mix, orange juice, and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Thoroughly fold whipped cream into mixture. Cover and chill 1 hour to blend flavors before serving.

Pepperoni Dip


    * 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    * 8 ounces sour cream
    * 2 (8 ounce) packages sliced pepperoni, quartered
    * 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chilies

You can use reduced fat (not fat free) versions of the cream cheese and sour cream and turkey pepperoni. 


   1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
   2. In a baking dish, stir the cream cheese, sour cream, pepperoni, and green chiles together.
   3. Bake in the preheated oven until thoroughly heated, about 30 minutes.

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Bernadette said...

I like her other series and I like museums so this one is going on the must have list. Thanks for the heads up.

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