Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fundraising the Dead-Sheila Connolly

Fundraising the Dead
Sheila Connolly
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425237441

She has a fancy title, but Eleanor "Nell" Pratt is simply a fundraiser for the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques in Philadelphia. Nell loves her job of begging for money. History is what motivates her to do her best to obtain large donations for the over-crowded museum. There are so many wonderful items in the collection; of which many have not been catalogued as that will take years, maybe decades.

On the eve of a gala fundraiser, donor Marly Terwilliger complains that some documents she saw in the stacks a few weeks ago are missing. As a pillar of society, Marly demands answers and Nell reluctantly goes to archivist Alfred Finley; who is cataloguing the collections on a web data base. He informs her he has not gathered the items given by Marty and that many things have vanished. Nell concludes one or more visitors are stealing artifacts that fit inside a pocket. After chatting with some people, Nell discusses her concerns with the society’s president Charles Worthington, her lover. She is unhappy with how he responds to the thefts as she concludes the stolen property ties back to the accidental death of Alfred, who died just after they talked. Marly and Nell investigate, which could prove “accidentally” deadly.

Leaving the apple “Orchard” mysteries for a museum murder mystery, Sheila Connolly writes a suave witty amateur sleuth tale. Nell knows who she is as she believes she is average in every way, but likes herself because she follows Shakespeare’s advice “to thine own self be true”. Everyone knows a Nell, a dedicated caring person who never stands out in the crowd, but few if any are as dependable. She is a believable protagonist who makes the story line of two females with no crime detecting experience investigate theft and maybe murder in what at times is comedic yet perilous.

Harriet Klausner

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