by Kathy Davie
First in the Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series set in the made-up Rocky Point in New Hampshire and revolving around Josie Prescott and her auction house.
Well, I vacillated between a “3” and a “4” strictly because I was not happy with her writing style. Cleland does a great job of explaining the auction house trade and she has created an interesting cast of characters…I’m looking forward to watching Josie’s romance proceed. My problem was with the coldness of her writing. It was quite often stiff and occasionally awkward. Her use of some short sentences such as “What a nice guy, I thought”, “I felt a rush of pride”, were a style clash with her more complex ones. And for all the detail Cleland goes into in most of the story, she skipped rather lightly over Barney’s offer to help out.
She drove me nuts repeating “Monterey chicken”! All right, already…talk about how it was her mom’s favorite recipe or her dad’s or…just don’t keep saying “Monterey chicken”! I got it the first time. Maybe alternate the “M c” word. Use your imagination.
Josie herself seems to be a bright lady, but she has a number of stupid moments—the overpainting is one that particularly stood out—and she certainly does jump to conclusions! Some of her crying jags were unreasonable—consider her confrontation scene at the end, but then that could be my own fault as a reader with too many expectations. Wait, I forgot about her emotional outbursts—she’s practically bipolar between her brisk business approach and then the melodramas. Cleland’s handling of the “deal” between Josie and Wes didn’t feel real to me. Wes was much too accepting of not getting any information from Josie. I can’t imagine a reporter being fobbed off so easily. Why would Josie call an ex-boyfriend to tell him she’s moving out of state??
Cleland did a good job with the police chief’s character, partly, I suspect, because he fit her writing style. I did enjoy Josie’s strictures from her dad. Some very practical advice in there. I’m hoping I remember most of it for myself!
A good chunk of the story provides Josie’s background from childhood to today and Cleland uses the storyline as an excuse for Josie to consider the backgrounds of her other character and she does it well. Cleland’s release of information from the police chief also had a real life feel to it.
If Andi and her mother have an equal share in Grant’s estate, then by what authority does Dana refuse Andi entrance to her grandfather’s house?
Ummm, the assessment Josie gives the professor’s books is grim.
Oh, yeah, I loved how Cleland ended it…
It’s the questions the chief of police is asking that clues Josie in that something is wrong in her world and it quickly escalates into international art theft, slander, and an intriguing look into the everyday world of an auction house.
Josie Prescott is an honorable, honest, and knowledgable person in her particular field. A bit cold and detached as well…we’ll have to see if she can be warmed up!. Both her parents are dead although they still influence her: her mother’s sense of aesthetics with her dad’s business practicality. She’s trying hard to establish her own auction house in Rocky Point after her terrible experience with a major auction house in New York City.
Her employees include young Eric with the laziness of youth, but he has a good heart; Gretchen is Josie’s assistant; and, the timid Sasha has a Ph.D. in art history and adores research. Paula Turner is related to the owners of the Taffy Pull and works part-time for Josie. Tom McLaughlin is an independent auctioneer who is quite rude but good at his work.
Chief Ty Alverez is with the Rocky Point police department and seems to be very good and conscientious at his job with a keen sense of propriety. Max Bixby is a lawyer with some old-fashioned tastes and he takes quite a shine to Josie. Britt Epps is a rival lawyer with some questionable ethics. Wes Smith is a reporter relentless in his pursuit of the story, but also with a bit of heart even if he has no clue about meals!
Nathaniel Grant is a retired, recently-widowed painting contractor anxious to auction off his household goods. Dana Cabot is Grant’s widowed daughter while Miranda “Andi” Cabot is the drug-addicted granddaughter. Interesting contrast between these two.
Barney and Martha Troudeaux are a rival auction house. He has a good reputation for schmoozing while she is, well, pretty much despised; it’s only the other professionals in the field who know how poorly they do research on their goods.
It’s a photographic cover with a close-up of a side table or a standing bureau with a shallow depth of field. I do like the use of a tag for Margaret Maron’s quote about the story.
The title is accurate enough for the person who had the misfortune to hand their household goods over to Josie on consignment, it was enough that they were Consigned to Death.