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the fine art of murder book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

If you’re a woman of a certain age, you should love Katherine Sullivan. You could love her even if you’re not a woman of a certain age. She’s a feisty, sensible and sensitive retired Chief of Police, a grandmother who has learned from life the lessons we all need to enable us to pay attention at various times of our lives.

Her husband had also been on the police force, and was killed during a bank robbery gone wrong.  Katherine stayed on the force for a while, then retired, determined not to settle into being the stereotypical old lady. Trust me, she’s anything but that!

Nathan Walker, now a widower, who with his wife Terry had been a frequent foursome with Kathy and Sully, also retired and bought a security firm, which he runs with his ‘crew’. This is the most delightful batch of misfits you’ve encountered in a long time–if ever. Security companies have various needs, and Nathan hand-picked his employees accordingly. There’s Brock, a cross between a rock and a brick – a bear with a beard, if you will – and the ‘muscle’ of the team. E. T. is a rather non-descript, easy to overlook expert at nonlethal weaponry and martial arts who installs alarms, and other electronic gizmos. The staff side is composed of the twenty-something Polly, a redhead with a pierced eyebrow who is at once an electronics and computer genius and a surveillance expert, and Rosie (who deceptively looks like the WWII Rosie the Riveter) with short hair and tattoos, but no visible piercings. She’s in her 50s, and is both a master locksmith and a breaking and entering expert.

Kate’s daughter, Liz, is an attorney, now divorced, with two kids on the verge of teendom: Cameron, a boy with Asperger’s and his sister Chloe who is seriously addicted to her phone. Although Kate was always artistically inclined, she never really had the time to indulge herself, until after she retired to New Mexico from her native Edina, Minnesota. Now she takes her paints and paraphernalia with her wherever she goes. She’s thrilled to discover that Cameron also has an artistic side, although vastly different from her own.

Soon after Kate arrives in Edina, the body of a young woman is discovered, in a local mansion that is in the process of being restored and bestowed on the community as a Heritage property. The current owner, Randall Pierce, is the last of his family, and has also just opened a new art gallery in the town. There are numerous rumors about artistic treasures buried within the walls of the mansion. His aunt, Jacqueline Bannister-Pierce, thinks the mansion should rightfully be hers, so, accompanied by her current boy toy, Hank Slater, she comes home to claim her property. Slater, a former professional football player, is now primarily a bully who likes to flex his muscles in an attempt to terrorize anyone who gets in his way.

Randolph had hired Stacey Jordan to help in his gallery and at the mansion, as needed, on the recommendation of the noted French art expert and connoisseur, Antoine Rousseau.

All of these people – and the various plot lines – are skillfully woven into a tapestry of enormous complexity; one that makes for a very engrossing mystery along with enough real-life adventures to keep you involved and interested from beginning to end. I will have a hard time waiting for the next adventure of Kate Sullivan, but I guess there’s little choice but to do just that.

A note about the publisher of this book. Crooked Lane is new on the scene, and those of their books that I’ve read so far make me want to jump up and shout ‘Bravo!  You’ve done good. Just please keep it up!’

Rating: ★★★★★ 

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Crooked Lane. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.