Jane K. Cleland
Minotaur, Apr 14 2009, $24.95
Portsmouth, New Hampshire antiques dealer Josie Prescott becomes concerned when her always responsible assistant Gretchen Brock fails to come to work two days in a row and does not call. This is so out of character for the reliable Gretchen, an extremely concerned Josie goes to her assistant’s apartment to see if she is all right. Instead of finding Gretchen, Josie finds the corpse of an unknown thirty something bloodied male lying on the sofa.
Josie believes Gretchen is innocent of at least the homicide though she wonders about a missing valuable vase no longer in the apartment; but also realizes she knows very little about her assistant who has worked for her for four years. The police consider the vanished woman as the prime suspect in the murder. Adding to the mystery is Josie’s two friends deny knowing where she is or much about her past and the missing Meissen vase appears in the shop’s safe. Finally reporter Wes Smith claims Gretchen obtained her current Social Security number four years ago. As she traces the vase back to a Denver homicide and robbery, Josie realizes who the victim was, how that person was related to Gretchen, and who her assistant was prior to her hiring her. However, if Gretchen did not commit the homicide who did remains out of Josie’s reach.
The latest Josie Prescott Antiques mystery (see ANTIQUES TO DIE FOR and DEADLY APPRAISAL) is a superb amateur sleuth invigorated by who is the focus of the heroine’s inquiry. As always readers obtain an interesting look at antiques interwoven into the exciting story line. Josie is at her best as she believes deep in her soul that Gretchen is no killer, but the evidence is damning. As Josie connects the dots between the Meissen murder and the current homicide, readers will enjoy a strong brisk New England cozy.