Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dolled Up for Murder by Jane K. Cleland

It's been so satisfying to watch the growth of Jane K. Cleland's character, Josie Prescott, over the course of the Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series. It's also been fascinating to watch the growth of the author herself. Dolled Up for Murder, the seventh in the series, is beautifully written. As usual, the book offers details about antiques, an intriguing mystery, and the return of favorite characters. And, for all the readers who know my pet peeve about amateur sleuths, Josie is my kind of character. She works with the police, not against them.

Over the course of the series, Josie has shown how ethical she is. So, when Alice Michaels wants to buy the entire doll collection from the Farmington estate, Josie hesitates. It's been all over the news that Alice, owner and founder of a financial advisory firm, is about to be indicted for operating a Ponzi scheme. And, Josie already refused to buy a collection from Alice's CEO, knowing she could be in trouble if she bought it. So, Josie only takes a deposit from Alice. The two women are in the parking lot of Prescott's Antiques & Auctions when someone starts shooting. Despite Josie's cries of warning, Alice stands there, and is killed.

Once she gets over her fear, and talks to the police chief, Ellis Hunter, Josie is enraged. "No way was it okay to shoot someone on my property and get away with it." But, things get worse when Eric, Josie's facilities manager, is kidnapped after picking up more dolls from the Farmington house. Josie learns about it when Ellis calls her to the scene where her van was discovered, abandoned. She readily agrees to work with the police. "Kidnapping Eric was a personal affront, a slap in my face. You don't mess with my family and get away with it."

There must be something special about those dolls. Were they the cause of Alice's murder, or was it her financial dealings? The dolls must have been behind Eric's kidnapping because the call from the kidnapper only asks for one thing, the rest of the doll collection. Josie's willing to put herself in danger to ensure Eric's release.

Cleland's books have always been informative, filled with information about antiques and collectibles. But, Josie has become a much more attractive character over the course of the series. She's grown from a lonely, sad figure who looked to her dead father for advice, to a strong woman surrounded by friends and people who love and respect her. And, she's an amateur sleuth who has acceptable reasons to get involved in cases.

If you've followed this series from the beginning, you'll recognize the changes in Josie. But, you'll also enjoy the return of her staff, Gretchen, Fred, Sasha, Cara, Eric, and the cat, Hank. If you haven't yet met the staff of Prescott's Antiques & Auctions, don't hesitate to start with Dolled Up for Murder. Jane K. Cleland skillfully gives you all the background you'll need to find your way into Josie Pescott's world of antiques and murder.

Jane K. Cleland's website is

Dolled Up for Murder by Jane K. Cleland. Minotaur Books. 2012. ISBN 9781250001849 (hardcover), 247p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Karen C said...

Sounds interesting and fun at the same time. Nice review, Lesa.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Karen. It is interesting and fun. This series just continues to get better.

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