It's always fun to discover a new mystery series. And, when the sleuth is a mature woman, a retired police chief, it's even better. Emily Barnes brings Katherine Sullivan home in the debut mystery, The Fine Art of Murder.
A few years after her husband, Sully, died, Katherine moved on with her life, working on her art and traveling as the couple intended. The former police chief of Edina, Minnesota always has time to visit though, especially when her daughter needs a shoulder to cry on after a rough divorce. And, Lizzie's children are not easy for a mother to handle, with one going through the growing pains of being thirteen, and the other one living with Asperger's syndrome. Katherine plans time just to relax with her family.
But murder doesn't happen often in Edina, and both Katherine and a former officer, Nathan Walker, know the new police chief is a good cop, but insecure. Nathan now owns a local security business, but the Pierce mansion wasn't ready yet for the full security treatment. And, that's where a body is found, a young woman hired to help with the restoration of the mansion before it's turned over to the state. And, the last person known to have argued with her is Randolph Pierce, who hires Katherine's daughter, Lizzie, as his attorney. What attorney wouldn't hire the former police chief as a special investigator?
Katherine Sullivan takes a few too many risks in my opinion, ones that a knowledgeable former police officer wouldn't take. However, she's able to cobble together the few clues to find a killer. While the mystery itself is just average, it's Katherine's relationship with her grandchildren that stands out. She has a beautiful, loving relationship with them, young teens in difficult circumstances, dealing with their parents' divorce. While Chloe is angry and confused, and also a typical thirteen-year-old, Cam has Asperger's syndrome, which makes any change difficult. Katherine is patient, kind, a wonderful grandmother who listens with respect.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Emily Barnes' Katherine Sullivan series. As a retiree, and an artist, Katherine is free to travel and end up with her nose in all kinds of situations. With her background, she's a perfect amateur sleuth. However, in A Fine Art of Murder, she was supported by Nathan's crew. I'll be waiting to see how Barnes puts together a team for the next mystery.
The Fine Art of Murder by Emily Barnes. Crooked Lane. 2016. ISBN 9781629534770 (hardcover), 298p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.