I'm going to come out with this right up front before reviewing Jane K. Cleland's Deadly Threads. She's appearing at Velma Teague for Authors @ The Teague on Saturday, May 7. She also listed me in the acknowledgments of the book, along with other librarians. But, this didn't influence my review. I've been known to say a book wasn't great, even though the author is a friend, and was appearing for a future Authors @ The Teague event. I can't let those appearances influence my reviews, or no one would want to read the reviews.
Saying that, Deadly Threads is the best Josie Prescott Antiques mystery so far. Anyone who has read the entire series knows Josie has grown into her business, and her relationships. She was an insecure, lonely person at the beginning of the series, and, justifiably so. She was a whistleblower who had been fired from her job, lost people she thought of as friends, and lost her beloved father. She had moved to Rocky Point, New Hampshire where she opened Prescott's Antiques & Auctions, and found herself involved in a murder case. By the time of this sixth book, she has a solid relationship with the former police chief, her business is flourishing, and she has a staff she enjoys working with. She even adopts a cat for the business, a handsome silver-colored long-haired Maine coon cat, a two-year-old male she names Hank.
In fact, Josie's business is doing so well, she took on an intern from the local college, and she's expanded the business to include Prescott's Vintage Fashions, a boutique managed by her assistant, and Josie's going to teach a series of workshops on building a vintage clothing collection, assisted by a friend, a wealthy woman, Riley Jordan. But, Riley shows up before the class, looking upset, and asks to have lunch with Josie the next day. For Riley, that next day never comes. When she doesn't show up for the workshop, Josie starts the class without her, only to find Riley's body underneath the table, strangled with her own scarf.
Josie Prescott is an amateur sleuth with a specialized knowledge. Her knowledge of vintage clothing and antiques is important to the solution of this case, and Police Chief Ellis Hunter and the local newspaper reporter, Wes Smith, work well with her. And, it's a good thing she adopted Hank, who actually discovers the clue that will reveal the killer.
Cleland's latest mystery is the most enjoyable, and the most readable, in the series. Although there are fascinating details about vintage clothing and accessories, they add to the book, but don't bog down the story. Hank is a wonderful addition, making Josie even more sympathetic. And, I enjoyed the homage paid to Rex Stout's mysteries. Josie uses a recipe for "Fritz's Glazed Lamb Chops," given to her by her mother, who had it from an old friend, Lily Rowan, who got it from a private chef named Fritz Brenner.
Jane K. Cleland's Josie Prescott mysteries have become better over time. Start at the beginning of the series, or start with Deadly Threads. A likable amateur sleuth, good supporting characters, a fascinating antiques background, and, now, a cat. What more do you want in an enjoyable mystery?
Jane K. Cleland's website is www.janecleland.net
Deadly Threads by Jane K. Cleland. St. Martin's Minotaur. ©2011. ISBN 9780312586560 (hardcover), 279p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.