Ornaments of Death by Jane K. Cleland is the 10th installment of the Josie Prescott Mysteries Series surrounding a mystery of missing antique collectibles that leads Josie to learn the true meaning of Christmas and family (available December 1, 2015).
Christmas lights twinkle throughout the cozy coastal town of Rocky Point, New Hampshire, and Prescott's Antiques auction venue has been transformed into a winter wonderland for Josie Prescott's annual holiday party. Josie is especially excited this year-Ian Bennington, a recently discovered distant relative, will be joining the fun. Both Ian and Josie are, it seems, descended from Arabella Churchill, a 17th century royal mistress. The party is a success and Ian is a hit. It gives Josie an unexpected thrill to have family-and unexpected dread when he vanishes.
Ian doesn't keep his dinner date with Josie's good friend, Lavinia, or his lunch date with her. Surely, he would have done so-if he could. Ian has given his daughter two priceless 17th century watercolor miniature portraits, one of Arabella and one of her lover, King James II, and they've gone missing, too. Knowing that after her nasty divorce, Lavinia is facing financial ruin, Josie can't help wondering if her friend is behind the theft-and Ian's disappearance.
Determined to find Ian, Josie uses her knowledge of antiques to track the miniatures. In doing so, she learns the true meaning of Christmas-and the true meaning of family.
I did a slow 360.
When I’d asked Gretchen, Prescott’s office manager, and Eric, our operations manager, to transform our antiques auction venue into a winter wonderland for tomorrow’s holiday party, I’d envisioned a big Christmas tree, some pretty evergreen garlands draped here and there, and a few strings of twinkling lights hanging from the crown molding. I was utterly unprepared for the ethereal vision surrounding me.
I took a tentative step toward one of the billboard-sized photographs that hung from the picture railing on gold metal grommets. A series of them circled the room, covering every inch of wall space. Only the entryway, a nearby window, and the arched foyer that led to the restrooms were unadorned. Each photo aligned seamlessly with its neighbors like pieces of fabric in a well-made garment, creating an uninterrupted view of an idealized hardwood forest, the kind of snowy phantasma Robert Frost wrote about.