Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so happy to welcome Jeanne back to Escapes With Dollycas!
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The hope held in the adage has many spending their weekends scouring yard sales and flea markets for great deals. Shoppers leave with their arms filled with used clothing, books, toys, and other assorted goods that cost a small fraction of their original price. Usually, the treasure is in the eye of the buyer, to paraphrase another expression. Occasionally, though, someone will spend a few dollars on an item whose true value is in the thousands or even millions. Unsuspecting buyers have walked away from rummage sales with such priceless bounty as a 1,000-year-old Chinese bowl, Coca Cola stock shares, Andy Warhol sketches, and an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. These amazing real-life stories served as inspiration for Murder, by George.
The fictional million-dollar object is a painting by a renowned artist; its lucky new owner is Scott Culverson, a young architect who pays ten dollars for a vintage wood box at a flea market in the village of Barton, New York. Scott discovers the painting in a hidden drawer when the box is knocked from his grasp. According to an enclosed letter written by the artist, George Bradshaw, the painting is a wedding present to his unrequited love.
It’s a spectacular find and Scott is soon making plans on how to spend his good fortune. He has student loans to pay off and a blueprint for a dream house. He’d love to start a collection of expensive wines and contribute a chunk of money to Barton, his new hometown. His girlfriend also wants a treat in the form of a Tiffany diamond ring.
It all sounds swell, doesn’t it? Remember, though, this is a cozy mystery, not a romance or feel-good story. There must be tension, sinister characters, and murder.
The conflict starts at the flea market, with the man who sold Scott the box and the family of the antique’s original owner arguing and threatening lawsuits as they stake their claims to the painting. The artist’s daughter and grandchildren join the fight that evening at a local restaurant, demanding Scott hand over the canvas, now!
Retired soap opera actress and amateur sleuth Veronica Walsh witnesses the scenes at the flea market and Hearth. That’s helpful when Scott is stabbed to death two nights later and the painting is stolen. Veronica has a ready-made list of suspects, including Scott’s adversary, the contractor who provided the shove that broke the box and revealed the painting, and Regina Quinn, a Barton newcomer and great-niece of two of Veronica’s dear friends. Veronica must also contend with a feisty hairdresser, sassy employees, and a conspiracy theorist septuagenarian as she tracks down Scott’s killer.
In a bit of foreshadowing, when leaving the flea market Veronica murmurs how glad she is she didn’t buy the vintage box. At least in fiction, the trash-to-treasure fantasy is best left to daydreams.
About The Author
Jeanne Quigley grew up reading mysteries, watching soap operas, and vacationing in the Adirondacks, never imagining these pleasures would inspire the Veronica Walsh cozy mystery series. Jeanne’s love of characters—real and fictional—led her to study Sociology and English at the University of Notre Dame. Jeanne has never been a soap star, but she has worked in the music industry and for an education publisher. She resides in Rockland County, New York and is a member of the Sisters in Crime.
Find out more about Jeanne on her website here.
Murder, By George
(A Veronica Walsh Mystery)
2nd in Series
Setting – New York
Five Star Publishing (May 18, 2016)
Hardcover: 268 pages
Retired soap opera actress Veronica Walsh leads a fulfilling second act in her Adirondack hometown of Barton. Her boutique, All Things, is thriving and she enjoys a romance with Professor Mark Burke. She has neither the time nor the desire to be an amateur sleuth.
Trouble finds her when architect Scott Culverson buys a vintage box at the village’s annual flea market and discovers a valuable painting and love letter inside a locked drawer. The awe over the masterpiece, a 1920’s portrait of Barton’s main street, turns to rage when a fierce argument ensues. The box’s seller insists the painting was not included in the sale, while Ella and Madeline Griffin, whose mother received the painting as a wedding present, demand that Scott return the painting to their family. The artist’s daughter, the formidable Leona Bradshaw Kendall, later joins the battle over Orchard Street.
When Scott is stabbed to death and the painting and letter stolen, the Griffin sisters ask Veronica to help clear suspicion from their hot-tempered great-niece, Regina. Despite a vow to stay out of the investigation, Veronica’s loyalty to her friends draws her into the case.
Veronica crosses paths with a shady contractor, brassy hairdresser, overwrought lawyer, and adoring Czech housekeeper as she searches for both killer and work of art. Whom can Veronica trust, and who will lead her to the brink of death?
In this follow up to All Things Murder, Veronica finds herself caught up in another fine mystery. A relaxing day at a local flea market get very interesting when a masterpiece is found in a vintage box. Things go from interesting to scary when the box buyer is found dead and the box contents missing. When Veronica is asked to investigate and rule out one of the suspects, she tries to find someone with more to gain by the death, but she soon has way to many suspects. Just who actually killed to get their prize? Veronica is determined to find out but she may not survive the challenge.
There are a lot of characters in this story and it first it was hard to keep track of them all. This did get easier as the story continued. The characters all had different ways they were connected to the painting. Some were very brusque in their demeanor and others weren’t quite as blunt. They all believed they were entitled to the painting and/or the letter. I seriously had a hard time figuring out the killer. In my mind they all could have done it.
As a soap opera fan I really enjoy the character of Veronica Walsh. She is very successful in her retirement. Her store seems to be doing well and her relationship with Professor Mark Burke is moving in the right direction. I really liked the way their romance was written. Not too much to take away from the mystery, a perfect amount so we get to know these characters better.
The flow of the story was not as smooth in couple of places but I think that was because so many characters being suspect in my mind as well as Veronica’s. We both seemed to be second guessing ourselves and not ruling anyone out. This made the mystery plot good but just a little stilted a times.
I love the setting, Barton sounds like a wonderful place to visit. I hope to travel there again soon.
The author is giving away an Advance Reader Copy and I will give away my copy too!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”