Ornaments of Death
It's nearly Christmastime in bucolic Rocky Point, N.H., and antiques dealer Josie Prescott is gearing up for her company's annual holiday bash. Having recently connected with a distant relative, Ian Bennington, Josie is thrilled when he appears in Rocky Point in time to attend her party. But the next day, when Ian doesn't show up for lunch with Josie or for a dinner date with her friend Lia, Josie begins to worry. Despite protests from the local police chief, Josie launches an investigation. Jane K. Cleland (Blood Rubies) stirs together a holiday confection of art theft, twinkle lights and murder in her 10th Josie Prescott mystery, Ornaments of Death.
Although Josie is an amateur sleuth (like most cozy-mystery protagonists), her day job as an antiques appraiser means she knows a thing or two about research. While fielding calls from customers who think they've found treasure in their attics, Josie dives into Ian's history and begins searching for his daughter, Becca, a marine biologist working nearby. Although Josie makes a few rookie mistakes, she does uncover vital information about Ian, Becca, Becca's dishonest ex-husband and two valuable miniature paintings that have also disappeared.
Readers of Cleland's series will enjoy repeat appearances by supporting characters, including Josie's colleagues and the auction-house cat, Hank. For first-time readers, Cleland gives enough context for a basic understanding of Josie's world. Josie is a likable heroine, and the mystery wraps up neatly--one might even say its ends are tied up in a festive bow. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams