Monday, April 15, 2019

Murder by the Spoonful (Antique Hunters Mystery #1)

Vicki Vass, February 2016

Anne Hillstrom and her friend CC Muller are antique hunters, and CC writes a blog about their adventures at estate sales and other fun sources of antiques. Anne's Great-Aunt Sybil, collector of Viking swords and jewelry, has just died, and to the great frustration of much of the family, has left everything to a museum and named Anne as her executor.

Anne and CC attend estate sales and head off to flea markets on their weekends, while Anne is also busy being shocked that the greedier  members of her extended family want to challenge Sybil's will on the grounds that she was obviously suffering from dementia, or she wouldn't have left all her valuable, museum-worthy collection to a museum. She's also finding that her cousin Suzanne is being abused by her husband. In their flea market adventures, she also finds a ring that looks like it could have, and likely did, come out of her aunt's collection.

Soon, it begins to seem that people are dying in unlikely ways, someone with an impeccable reputation is preying on eager collectors, and that CC (a newspaper reporter) and Anne (a chemist), bored with their boring day jobs, might have the prospect of a new career in tracking down specific antique and vintage items for followers of their blog interested in reclaiming some cherished memories.

They both meet interesting guys along the way. For Anne, it's Detective Towers, whom she manages to interest in the ring, even with no evidence it belonged to her aunt or was stolen. For CC, it's Tony, the Italian shipwright who is looking for some nice pieces of the correct vintage for the wooden yacht he's restoring.

CC is a walking encyclopedia of interesting facts about the stuff that interests her and the surrounding history. I actually sympathize greatly with this, but she has no off switch for it, and the author lets her go on far too long, far too often.

Anne is a mostly likable, and mostly good, person, with, sadly, a damaged set of ethics with regard to rules and property rights at estate sales. No, she doesn't steal things--not quite. Not outright. There were times I seriously wanted to whack her upside the head, though.

If this all sounds a little scattershot, it is. Much of the plot is interesting but not well-organized. The author also sometimes seems to not be paying attention. For instance, Detective Towers, who is from the UK originally, tells Anne fairly early on that he and his mother came to the US after the death of his father, when Towers was twelve. Later, he tells CC this happened when he was eleven. In a better-organized book, this would have been a great flashing clue that there's something shady about Towers, and I kept waiting for more to be revealed--but no. Towers is a perfectly nice, honest, upright guy--who unlike myself and every other person I know who had a parent die when they were children over the age of reason, doesn't remember how old he was when it happened. Or, as seems sadly more likely in this sometimes scattershot book, Vass didn't remember, didn't check, and didn't employ a copy-editor to catch those kinds of errors.

I find I have to comment on the narrator, too. Fine voice. Good reader. Really! But she should not be allowed to do accents. Every single foreign accent in the book wound up sounding overdone and a bit prissy.

Fun, but not something to put effort into hunting down.

I bought this audiobook.

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