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Showing posts by: Jane K. Cleland click to see Jane K. Cleland's profile
Nov 21 2016 10:00am

Glow of Death: New Excerpt

Jane K. Cleland

Glow of Death by Jane K. Cleland is the 11th Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (Available November 29, 2016).

As a warm ocean breeze ruffles the tall grass along Rocky Point’s sandy dunes, Josie Prescott visits the house of a wealthy local couple, Edwin and Ava Belcher. She’s been called in to appraise their Tiffany lamp, which everyone is delighted to find is genuine.

Josie’s good friend, Police Chief Ellis Hunter, is helping prepare for her annual Fourth of July barbeque when he gets a call that Ava has been murdered. Unable to reach Edwin, Ellis asks Josie to identify the body.
Josie is stunned to discover that the dead woman lying on the Belcher kitchen floor is not the woman she knew as Ava. Astonishment turns to shock when Josie discovers that everything she thought she knew about the Tiffany lamp and the Belchers has been built on lies.

In this cunning and twisty tale of envy, greed, and revenge, Josie uses her knowledge of antiques to learn the truth about the priceless Tiffany lamp―and to discover Ava’s killer.

[Read an excerpt from Glow of Death...]

May 10 2016 11:15am

Nero Wolfe Redux: A Conversation with Robert Goldsborough

Rex Stout’s beer-drinking, reclusive, genius detective, Nero Wolfe, was introduced to the world in 1934 to immediate and overwhelming acclaim. During the next 41 years, Mr. Stout wrote 33 Nero Wolfe books and 39 novellas. The stories, which might properly be classified as soft-boiled detective fiction, are narrated by Mr. Wolfe’s assistant detective, the dapper man of action, Archie Goodwin. They are by turns witty, thought-provoking, erudite, intriguing, and a love story to New York.

When Mr. Stout died in 1975, devoted fans from around the globe mourned the loss of the enduringly popular stories. One of those mourners was Robert Goldborough’s mother, and he did what any loving son would do—he spent the next year writing a Nero Wolfe story for her. I asked Goldsborough to discuss his path from loyal fan to official continuator.

[Read the full interview here...]

Nov 27 2015 11:00am

Ornaments of Death: New Excerpt

Jane K. Cleland

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.

Chapter One

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.

[Read more of Ornaments of Death here...]

Dec 4 2014 11:00am

Some Buried Caesar: 75 Years of Rex Stout’s High-Ground Gal, Lily Rowan

To Lily and Sally and all Rex Stout’s Gals who try to do the right thing.

This is the 75th anniversary of the publication of Rex Stout’s Some Buried Caesar, the first time we meet Lily Rowan, one of the great hottie-totties in crime fiction literature. Lily is Archie’s main squeeze. You know Archie, right? Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe’s amanuensis, whom I’ve described in another entry for this blog, as crime fiction’s quintessential hunk. Lily is tough and gorgeous and as honest as the day is long.

About a year ago, when rereading one or another of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories for the umteenth time, I became aware of a theme in the opus that I had never before noticed: gals who try to do the right thing.

Some series spoilers throughout, but if you haven’t read these yet, don’t wait another seventy-five years!

[To all the gals they’ve loved, respected, feared before…]

Dec 1 2014 1:30pm

Blood Rubies: New Excerpt

Jane K. Cleland

Blood Rubies by Jane K. Cleland is the 9th Josie Prescott Mystery about the antiques expert who is hired by a celebrity chef to appraise what turns out to be a fake, and deadly, heirloom (available December 2, 2014).

Ana Yartsin is on the verge of becoming a celebrity chef. Her custom Fabergé egg-shaped cakes have brought her national attention, as has the story behind the cakes: Her family owns the spectacular Fabergé Spring Egg snow globe, a magnificent example of the master craftsman’s work that includes five ruby-red tulips. As she prepares to be filmed for a reality TV show about the launch of her bakery in Rocky Point, New Hampshire, Ana hires antiques expert Josie Prescott to appraise the precious egg and snow globe.

The show's pilot will show Ana planning the desserts for the upcoming wedding of her friend Heather to investment guru, Jason. When Josie arrives at Ana's home, however, she finds Jason murdered and the priceless snow globe smashed beyond repair. All that remains for Josie to examine are bits and pieces—which to her shock reveal that the Spring Egg was a fake.

What has happened to the real Fabergé snow globe, if it even existed? And what does that have to do with Jason's murder? Never one to resist a puzzle, Josie teams up with her reporter friend Wes to investigate.

Chapter 1

Ana Yartsin stood beside one of her custom Fabergé-egg-shaped wedding cakes, unfazed by the frenetic activity swirling around her. The film crew was larger than I’d anticipated—I counted twenty-two people, including a uniformed security guard—and they all seemed to be doing things with frantic urgency. A young woman with pink hair and a star tattoo on her neck dabbed at Ana’s cheek with a fluffy powder puff. Someone named Mack called to someone named Vinnie to check the light meter. The security guard, a big guy with a crew cut and a gun on his hip, stood near Ana, his eyes on the move. Timothy Brenin, the producer/director, dashed up to talk to a short man with spiky yellow hair carrying a clipboard, then called to Mack that we had another hour of good sun.

[Continue reading Blood Rubies by Jane K. Cleland...]

Jun 26 2013 11:00am

Killer Antiques: What’s It Worth?

Just as the Bible tells us that it’s not money per se that leads to evil, but rather the love of money, so too it is with antiques: It’s not that antiques can lead to murder, it’s the emotions that swirl around them, emotions like greed, jealousy, revenge, fear, love, or hate.

When you deal in high-end antiques, like my protagonist, Josie Prescott, you need to be discreet. You need to consider only the object, not the undercurrents of rivals’ ill intentions or the prayers of children that they’re the favorite after all. Emotions can fester and grow whether the object is a counterfeit, a two dollar collectible, or a priceless antique. Part of the job is being able to tell the three apart. Using a combination of experience, science, and intuition, antiques appraisers consider rarity, scarcity, condition, taste, past sales, association, and provenance to first authenticate, then value objects.

Of all those factors, provenance is often the most complicated. Tracing the object’s ownership from the artist or maker’s completion of the work to the current day is meticulous, painstaking work, but without clear title, there can be no confidence of authenticity, nor will an object sell for top dollar. This is a serious concern since fraud is more common than you might think. In fact, Matisse once remarked, “I’ve painted 1,500 canvases. 2,500 of them are in America.” Ouch.

[Fie on your faux-tiques!]

Jun 6 2013 8:30am

Archie Goodwin, Mystery’s Quintessential Hunk

Archie Goodwin by Austin BriggsMystery author Rex Stout was, by all reports, a flirt. He loved beautiful women, and to him, most women were beautiful. According to his daughter, shortly before he died at age 87, Mr. Stout engaged in some charming repartee with his hospital nurse—he flirted with her and she flirted back. How lovely, and to me, a devotee of Mr. Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories, not a surprise. Only a man who adores women could have created Nero Wolfe’s assistant, Archie Goodwin.

Archie is every woman’s dream man. He’s tall. He’s dark. He’s handsome. He loves to dance. And he’s one heck of a detective, determined to protect any woman who needs protecting. By looking at him through female characters’ eyes, it’s easy to see why women, me included, consider him a hero.

According to the Random House dictionary, a hero is “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” Check. Archie’s behavior defines heroism. Especially when it comes to women.

[Our hearts are sighing already]

Mar 26 2012 12:00pm

Dolled Up For Murder: New Excerpt

Jane K. Cleland

Dolled Up for Murder by Jane K. ClelandAn excerpt from Dolled Up For Murder by Jane K. Cleland (available March 27, 2012).

On a sparkling spring day in the cozy coastal town of Rocky Point, New Hampshire, with the lilacs in full bloom and the wisteria hanging low, antiques dealer Josie Prescott is showing a stellar doll collection she’s just acquired to Alice Michaels, the queen of the local investment community. Moments later, Josie watches in horror as Alice is shot and killed. Within hours, one of Josie’s employees, Eric, is kidnapped. The kidnapper’s ransom demand is simple—he wants the doll collection. Working against the clock with the local police chief, Josie discovers that the dolls hold secrets that will save Eric and uncover the truth behind Alice’s murder.

Chapter 1

Gretchen, administrative manager of Prescott’s An­tiques & Auctions, spread the photographs over her desk. “I can’t decide,” she said. She looked up and smiled at us, her expressive green eyes reflecting her pleasure. “What do you think? Should I go with the blue hydrangeas and paperwhites? Or the veronicas and baby’s breath?” She angled the two photos so we could see them.

“I love hydrangeas!” Cara, our receptionist, said. Cara was grand­motherly in appearance, with curly white hair and a round pink face that grew pinker when she felt pleasure, embarrassment, or sadness.

[Read the full excerpt of Dolled Up For Murder by Jane K. Cleland]