On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Ruby Red Herring: An Avery Ayers Antique Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New York
Crooked Lane Books (June 8, 2021)
Hardcover : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 1643856596
ISBN-13 : 978-1643856599
Kindle ASIN : B08F4GJ2DP
A 2022 MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD Nominee
In this Avery Ayers Antique Mystery series debut, perfect for fans of Ellery Adams and Jane K. Cleland, an antiques appraiser hunts a missing gem while probing her parents’ deaths.
After her parents’ deaths, Avery Ayers takes over the family business, Antiquities & Artifacts Appraised, from the home office in Lilac Grove and a branch in Manhattan. Now living back at home with her younger sister Tilly and their newly moved-in, eccentric Aunt Midge and her Afghan hound, Avery’s life is filled with jewels, tapestries, paintings, and rare finds. But their world is rocked when Avery learns that the theft of a priceless ruby may be connected to her parent’s demise.
The trouble starts when the Museum of Antiquities hires Avery to appraise a rare, resplendent ruby. It bears a striking similarity to a solitary stone in the museum’s prized Xiang Dynasty bejeweled dragon medallion exhibit, which has long been missing one of its ruby eyes. Now, Avery and her colleagues–ostentatious Sir Robert Lane and fatherly Micah Abbott–suspect they may have the missing gem. But facets of the case remain cloudy. Security guard Art Smith is always underfoot but is not what he appears. Another body turns up connected to the appraisal. And Avery receives mysterious notes that begin to put her life in danger.
Avery enlists possible ally Art’s help in cutting the list of suspects who might have polished off her parents and swiped the jewel. Was it art collector Oliver Renell? Curator Nate Brennan? Acquisitions Liaison Francesca Giolitti? Actor Tyler Chadwick? Was the crime impersonal or perpetrated by someone all too close to Avery? If she can’t find the culprit, lovely Lilac Grove may be the setting for Avery’s own death.
Avery and Tillie Ayers were in the car when it crashed killing both their parents. Their Aunt Midge and her dog Halsten immediately moved from Manhatten to Lilac Grove where they all dealt with their grief and tried to move on. For Avery that meant stepping into her parent’s shoes in the family business, Antiquities & Artifacts Appraised. The business has been hired to appraise and authenticate a large rare ruby. A ruby that may be the missing piece from a dragon medallion from the Xiang Dynasty currently being exhibited by the museum. A piece her parents appraised right before their deaths. Avery with assistance from her employee and friend Micah Abbott must first determine if the ruby is real and if it is, analyze if it is indeed the jewel missing from the dragon medallion.
While Avery is trying to concentrate on the jewel she receives a threatening note followed by other strange events including the murder of an art collector. Realizing the danger she faces she knows they must complete the appraisal as quickly as possible but then someone else is attacked. She finds help from an unusual source to keep her safe. They also work together to try to uncover the killer but their luck just may run out before they do . . .
Oh, this was an exciting story.
I am very appreciative that the author took the time to really introduce these characters and give us readers their back story. Avery is a complex protagonist because she is not only dealing with the deaths of her parents on a personal level but on a business level as well. She has some big shoes to fill and she knows it. It is a lot for a twenty-five-year-old to handle so I was happy to see that her mental health was addressed and that she is seeing a therapist. Tilly has a big audition coming up and it could mean a huge step as she starts her college life. She too is in therapy to help deal with her loss. Their Aunt Midge is their rock. She does anything she can for the girls and keeps the grief of losing her brother under wraps. They are a close family unit and for the most part, they are getting on with their lives. These characters all have a genuine feel and I felt it was very easy to care about what was happening in their lives.
The supporting cast features Micah, Sir Robert, and Art Smith. Micah and Sir Robert work for Antiquities & Artifacts Appraised and have known Avery and Tilly their whole lives. Micah comes across as caring and competent. He has suffered his own loss that turned his life upside down before losing his friends, Anne and William Ayers. Sir Robert seems to be very art smart but lacking in life knowledge. He just isn’t really tuned in to what is happening around him at all times. Art Smith is a fantastic character. He is working as a security guard at the museum but he is so much more. Ms. Gardner did of nice job of letting these characters develop over the course of the story.
I love that this mystery was different from most of the cozy mysteries I read. The focus was truly on the ruby with a variety of tentacles building off of it. The mystery was truly challenging and riveting, The museum was a busy place, open for its regular exhibits plus there was a movie being shot in one wing. That added to the intrigue as more people came into play. It also adds to the suspect list. Ms. Gardner had me taking notes about all the connections and interactions as I tried my best to solve the mystery before all was revealed. I was still kept guessing right up until the very end and was thrilled by that.
A wonderfully entertaining mystery full of truly interesting characters inhabits the pages of Ruby Red Herring. I love Tracy Gardner’s writing style and was delighted by the precise way she added humor and romance in all the right places. This book is a real gem! It checks all my cozy boxes!
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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.”