Jane K. Cleland's Josie Prescott Antiques mysteries continue to get better. Josie Prescott has not only grown her antiques business over ten years, she has grown as a character. Readers of Ornaments of Death will find an intelligent, strong amateur sleuth, a well-developed character who uses her research skills to find answers about antiques, and about murder.
Josie still mourns the loss of her parents. With no siblings, she's delighted to meet a distant cousin she never knew she had, Ian Bennington. Ian retired early, and has the time for genealogical research. He and Josie are related through a distant relative, Arabella Churchill, and he gave his daughter, Becca, two valuable miniatures, one of King James II, and the other of his mistress, Arabella. Now that Ian has traveled from England to visit his daughter, Josie has the chance to invite him to the annual Prescott Antiques party. She finds him delightful, as does a friend. After promising to meet with them, Ian disappears.
When Ian doesn't show up for his date, or for his lunch with Josie, she begins to worry. When even her friend, Police Chief Ellis Hunter, says Ian is free to go wherever he wants, Josie turns to research to find how she can push to find the missing man. And, when Becca reacts strangely when Josie finally reaches her, she knows it's time to act.
Ornaments of Death is a richly detailed, compelling mystery with well-developed characters. The mystery itself is suspenseful and intricately plotted. And, once again, Cleland makes historical information about antiques accessible, and fascinating.
But, best of all, considering my requirements for mysteries, Josie Prescott is an intelligent, strong female, trusted by, and trusting Ty, the man she loves. They both glory in each others' success, although they worry about each other, because they love each other. Over the course of the series, Josie has built a business and a network of supportive friends. She is a friend of Rocky Point's police chief, and she doesn't keep secrets from him. He encourages her research, using her as a resource. And, she texts, calls, and keeps him informed. She's intense, but finds moments to relax with Hank, the business' Maine Coon cat. In other words, Josie Prescott is the kind of savvy, intelligent woman who makes a perfect amateur sleuth.
Ornaments of Death is more than an attractive seasonal mystery. It's a complex, riveting story of deception and murder, a story with depth.
Jane K. Cleland's website is www.janecleland.net
Ornaments of Death by Jane K. Cleland. Minotaur Books. 2015. ISBN 9781250074539 (hardcover), 291p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.