Saturday, April 21, 2018
Antique Blues by Jane K. Cleland
Josie and her fiancé, Ty Alvarez, are at a party for Mo Shannon when Josie overhears a troubling conversation. Mo's parents fear Cal Lewis, boyfriend of Mo's sister, Lydia, may be abusing her. Josie's suspicions are aroused even more when Mo asks Josie to appraise her newly acquired Japanese woodblock print. Cal sold it to her, and he protests that it's not worth appraising for insurance purposes. Then, Mo is murdered, and Cal disappears on the same day.
Naturally, Josie offers assistance to her friend, Police Chief Ellis Hunter. She's the one with the knowledge and staff who can work on tracing the history of the Japanese piece. It may provide a reason for murder. Josie also knows Mo's family and some of her friends.
Although the Shannons are in mourning, Mo's father, Frank, shows up at Josie's, and asks her to appraise a Martin guitar he owns, but he can only provide vague details as to its history. While tracing the provenance, Josie begins to add some of Frank's own story to the account of Mo's murder.
There are so many reasons I appreciate Jane K. Cleland's mysteries. Although Josie does have one tstl moment in this book (too stupid to live), that's an exception in this story. Josie respects her relationship with Police Chief Hunter, and she shares her knowledge and her suppositions with him. At times, he's able to shoot down her ideas. Cleland does not treat the police as idiots. It's only Josie's specialized knowledge that allows her to find clues the police might not discover.
The hunt for information about the antiques and art is fascinating. Cleland involves Josie's staff. Josie isn't the only one who works on these searches. Her staff knows experts, calls and communicates with them, and passes information on to Josie. She doesn't work in a vacuum. The information about the Japanese art work and the Martin guitar comes as a result of teamwork.
And, Cleland has one strong point going for her, from my point of view. Once Josie began to date Ty Alvarez, the two remain a couple. There is no romantic triangle, no cheating. That romantic triangle element that lasts forever in some cozy series is one of my pet peeves. It's a pleasure to see the strength, the humor, and the love in the relationship between Josie and Ty. And, it's a relationship supported by a close-knit group of friends.
Josie Prescott has grown over the course of the series. She embodies, and believes, that people change. "We get better. Stronger. More capable. At least, we do if we want to." Josie Prescott has grown, personally and professionally, over the years. Antique Blues is the perfect example of Josie's growth, culminating in a wonderful ending for those of us who have followed the series.
Jane K. Cleland's website is www.JaneCleland.net
Antiques Blues by Jane K. Cleland. St. Martin's Minotaur. 2018. ISBN 9781250148742 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.