Over the course of the nine books in the Josie Prescott Antiques series, Jane K. Cleland has shown us how her character can grow and change. That's part of the pleasure of this series, character development. Josie Prescott is an intelligent amateur sleuth who utilizes her strength, her knowledge of antiques. In each mystery, antiques play a crucial role, and Josie and her team subtly educates readers as to the history of those items. Add the mystery in each book is intriguing. Cleland's latest, Blood Rubies, is a fascinating mystery, incorporating antiques and popular culture.
Because Josie has asked celebrity chef Ana Yeltsin to bake a cake for a baby shower, she's asked to participate in a pilot for Ana's new reality television show. The show will focus on Ana's dual role as a pastry chef and a young woman remaking her life as she bakes cakes based on Fabergé eggs. Ana has a reason to love Fabergé eggs. She owns an unusual one, undocumented, under a snow globe.
But, Ana's life is anything but smooth. A childhood friend, Heather, is in Rocky Point to marry Jason, a financial guru. However, Ana's brother was once in love with her. Josie can see all the tension when the parties are together. Then, Josie and Ana find Jason dead in Ana's house, with the snow globe in hundreds of pieces around him.
When murders in Rocky Point involve antiques, it's natural for Police Chief Ellis Hunter to turn to Josie for assistance. She and her staff research and turn to experts for answers as they look for information about snow globes and Russian eggs. How is Ana's inherited treasure connected to Jason's death?
In the course of Jane K. Cleland's latest mystery, she utilizes all the elements mentioned earlier. Readers will learn about snow globes, the treasured eggs, and, even walking canes as the staff of Prescott Antiques researches. But, as always, it's the characters that make this series stand out. Josie may be an expert in her own field, but she turns her information over to the police, and consults her own lawyer when necessary. She doesn't work on her own. She works closely with local reporter Wes Smith, on behalf of the police chief. And, Wes, like Josie, has grown emotionally in the course of this series.
Likable characters? Check. Josie and her staff and friends are well-rounded, realistic characters. An amateur sleuth who works with the police, not against them? Check. A mystery that also introduces readers to an unfamiliar world? Check. We always learn about antiques and collectibles. A wonderful cat that is a cat, not a talking animal? Check. A solid mystery with clues that play fair with the reader? Check. Blood Rubies is the latest in a string of well-written, excellent mysteries by Jane K. Cleland. They don't get much better than this.
Jane K. Cleland's website is www.janecleland.net
Blood Rubies by Jane K. Cleland. Minotaur Books. 2014. ISBN 9781250054135 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.