Book Review: Jane K. Cleland’s Deadly Appraisal

Posted June 20, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

by Kathy Davie

Deadly AppraisalDeadly Appraisal by Jane K. Cleland
Series: Josie Prescott Mystery, 2
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Second in the Josie Prescott Mystery series revolving around Josie and her antique auction house in Rocky Point, New Hampshire.

My Take
Cleland does write a good story, I just wish she were a bit warmer and not such a drama queen. Nor do I like Josie all that much. Her “excuses” for investigating never ring true and that’s Cleland’s writing. I also hate how quickly Josie always jumps to the conclusion that one of her own employees is involved. Sure, it makes sense to wonder, but the cold, controlling Josie tends to leap in with both feet and be determined that that person is definitely guilty and oh woe is her.

I do like Josie’s dad’s remembered comments. He was a practical businessman with a good moral compass. I also like learning about the auction house business. It’s very informative and well-done, well-integrated into the story. Cleland makes a good point about perception as well. I also liked how Cleland kept taking us back through Josie’s “video” of what happened that night. I found myself doing the same thing, seeing if I could “see” events of a specific day. It really is all about perception.

What is the deal with Wes? He must be a wanna-be James Bond or something the way he’s always insisting on these surreptitious meetings. Makes me nuts.

The Story
The heart attack Maisy appears to suffer just as they are about to announce the winners turns into something more menacing. Worse, the detective investigating believes that Josie may have been the intended target. Although he acts more like she was the murderer. I wanted to smack him!

Ty is out of town struggling to cope with a dying aunt and someone is targeting Josie. Between the attack and the theft, Josie is on tenterhooks, wondering who could hate her so much. In between the attacks are Rowcliff’s accusations and business as usual at a flourishing auction house with Josie snatching bits of time to investigate on her own.

The Characters
Josie Prescott is starting over with the antiques business. After the nightmare of the trial in New York City, she just wants to get away. For the most part, Josie enjoys her life in Rocky Point if only people would stop getting murdered. Her dad was a vital part of her life and even in death, his teachings guide her life. Gretchen is her assistant with an unknown past; young Eric is improving—he’s getting a promotion; Josie just needs to remember to provide detailed instructions; and, Dr. Sasha is coming out of her shell and revels in research along with new-hire Fred.

Chief Ty Alverez is with the Rocky Point police department and has become her sort-of-boyfriend (no, Cleland doesn’t explain how or why he’s a sort-of). He’s not very available this time around. Max Bixby is Josie’s lawyer. He could probably skip any other clients and just be on call for Josie as often as she needs him.

Maisy Galor is the Portsmouth Women’s Guild’s representative and has been working with Josie for months on the Annual Black and Gold Gala fundraiser and Walter is her philandering husband. Dora Reynolds is the volunteer in charge of the event. Hank Avery is Dora’s trombone-playing boyfriend. Britt Epps is “the honorary chair of the Gala and the most influential lawyer in town”. Pam Field is a graphic designer and was a friend of Maisy’s.

Wes Smith is a reporter who will do anything for a story and tends to overdramatize. Zoe Dwyer is Mr. Winterelli’s niece and has inherited the house Josie rents. She has two young children: Jake and Emma along with Lassie the dog. Eddie runs a catering service and has a contract with Prescott Antiques. Jimmy is the bartender at the Blue Dolphin.

Detective Rowcliff is the investigator for the murder that starts this story off. He’s said to be very good at his job, but he is such a jerk and he hounds Josie daily. Officer Johnston takes notes for Rowcliff and smiles at Josie (I wish she had developed this character a bit more).

Trevor Woodleigh was Josie’s boss and the CEO back at Frisco. Before Josie’s testimony took him down for conspiracy to defraud, racketeering, perjury, and grand larceny. Now he’s out of prison.

The Cover
The cover is a distortion of shapes in fuchsia with an angled perspective shot on a poison bottle, skull and crossbones and all.

The title certainly fits Josie’s business, but I think it’s more likely that Maisy’s Deadly Appraisal is what got her murdered.