Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lethal Treasure by Jane K. Cleland

Over the course of eight books, Josie Prescott has become one of my favorite amateur sleuths. She's grown from an insecure loner into a confident woman, who, best of all, in my opinion, isn't reckless in the course of an investigation. She's a woman who works closely with the police, even when she's a suspect. And, this time, in Jane K. Cleland's Lethal Treasure, there is more than one clue pointing to Josie as a murderer.

Josie has new friends in Rocky Point, New Hampshire, and she and Ty Alvarez enjoy the company of Henri and Leigh Ann Dubois from Dubois Interior Design. Henri and Josie may bid against each other at auctions of abandoned storage units, but they're usually after different items. Josie wants antiques and collectibles for her antique and tag sale business. Henri is more interested in modern items, and he often brings items to Josie for appraisal. She's fascinated by the movie posters from one local storage unit. They're beautiful hand-painted posters from the silent movie age, and, she's hoping she can give Henri good news. But, the day after a heated auction, Josie receives a frantic call from Leigh Ann. Henri never made it home, and twenty-four hours later, when the police can start a search, they find him murdered in the storage unit.

Josie is grief-stricken at the death of her friend. "I was cold to my bones and sad deeper than that." And, she's shocked when she calls the police after a break-in at her house, only to find herself a murder suspect, when items related to the victim and the crime show up. She can't believe that someone is setting her up for the murder of Henri. Hoping to find clues, she continues to try to work on the appraisals of the movie posters, hoping she'll find someone connected to Henri's death.

Why do I like Josie Prescott? She's not one of those sleuths who is TSTL, Too Stupid to Live. She doesn't hide information from the police. And, when she is called in as a suspect, her actions are realistic. "I did what I always did when a situation arose with legal and moral implications too complex for me to sort through on my own." She called her lawyer. That makes her smarter than 90% of other amateur sleuths in my opinion.

There are so many other reasons to appreciate the Josie Prescott Antiques mysteries. There's the wonderful group of employees who work with Josie at Prescott Antiques and Appraisals. They've become her surrogate family. There's Hank, the Maine Coon cat who has become a part of Josie's family. Add in the love interest with Ty Alvarez, and his unconditional support for Josie. Of course, there's the fascinating information in each book about antiques and collectibles, such as movie posters and jewelry. And, for anyone who loves traditional mysteries, there's Josie's determination that "chaos would resolve into order", a staple of the best of the genre.

It's tough for any amateur sleuth to become a murder suspect. But, Josie Prescott is a strong, capable sleuth who puts her knowledge of antiques and investigation to good use. Lethal Treasure is another enjoyable treasure by Jane K. Cleland.

(And, on a side note, how could I ignore that dedication? "This is for librarians, the rock stars of my world. When I was young, librarians welcomed me and encouraged my curiosity, so libraries became, to me, a place of solace and hope. Today, libraries remain a safe haven in times of strife, and librarians continue to be my heroes.")

Jane K. Cleland's website is

Lethal Treasure by Jane K. Cleland. Minotaur Books. 2013. ISBN 9781250026941 (hardcover),

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


BPL Ref said...

I'm with you, Lesa! Josie is definitely one of the best amateur sleuths going. I never have to cringe at her rushing in to a crime scene and disturbing evidence or deciding to set out on dangerous investigations. She solves the mysteries in a mature, believable manner-- Josie is one of the few grown-ups in the genre, and I mean that in the best way possible!

I also love all the little things I learn in a painless way-- what makes a particular class of collectible have value, what is undesirable, etc.


Lesa said...


It's so nice to hear Josie described that way, "one of the few grown-ups in the genre". You're so right. Isn't it refreshing?