Review: Out of the Picture: A Shepherd Sisters Mystery by Tracy Gardner


Purple Goodreads

Savanna Shepherd is a former art authenticator—someone who can tell a forgery from the real thing. She’s got a talent for spotting secrets hiding in plain sight.

In the wake of a painful breakup, she moves back to her idyllic hometown on the banks of Lake Michigan. At least she’s close to her sisters again, and she’s enjoying her new job as a grade school art teacher.

Savanna even rediscovers her creative soul when an old family friend hires her to paint a mural. But sad and strange incidents occur at the woman’s mansion, compelling Savanna to investigate. With a little help from her sisters—and from Aidan, the intriguing town doctor—will she be able to figure out what’s wrong with this picture?

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: NetGalley and Hallmark Publishing          Rating: 4/5 stars

As the old saying goes, you can’t ever go home, but Savanna Shepherd is determined to be the exception to that rule.  After leaving the big city, her feckless fiancé, and her prestigious job as an art authenticator, Savanna is back home and settling in nicely.  She’s secured a job as an elementary art teacher, she is living with her sister, and slowly melding back into life in her beloved hometown. 

One of the first orders of business for Savanna upon settling in is reconnecting with her grandmother-of-the-heart, Caroline Carson.  From childhood, Caroline has held a special place in the Shepherd sister’s lives and hearts.  Seeing Caroline again is a special pleasure for Savanna and while she intended it to be a short visit to reconnect with an old friend, it turns into something far, far greater.

As Savanna reenters Caroline’s life, she discovers her dear friend is renovating her historic home, thinning out her impressive and vast art collection, and gearing up for her 90th birthday celebration.  To that end, Caroline enlists Savanna’s help in the form of a lovely seascape mural to match the view out her sitting room window.  With a new job, a new project, and a new life, Savanna is excited to get started, but almost immediately, that excitement is tempered by worry.  Caroline, at 89-years-old is in remarkable shape, but her heart is acting a bit wonky which has led to some in-home testing and the presence of her personal physician, Dr. Aidan Gallager. 

Though Caroline convinces Savanna the tests are nothing to be worried about, a series of events unfolds that only compounds Savanna’s worry.  Following the sudden and unexpected death of one of Caroline’s dear friends, Savanna, Caroline, and Dr. Gallager all begin to wonder and worry.  As the days and weeks leading up to the party unfold, more troubling events unfold in Caroline’s home that leads Savanna and company to believe there’s a very bad person out to harm Caroline, if not kill her.  Though Caroline doesn’t want to believe it to be true, the evidence is mounting up the more questions that are asked and answers that are uncovered.  If Savanna and company can’t figure out the truth of the situation soon, Caroline just may not make it to her 90th birthday bash.

The Bottom Line:  You know what’s awesome when it’s combined?  Hallmark Publishing and the cozy mystery genre!  The Shepherd sisters are all quite delightful, each with their own distinct and lovely personalities, their parents are a wonderful support system, and the town itself is comfortable and perfect for the story and characters.  The plot involves on of my favorite topics, art, and plays with a cast of characters that are easy to like, easy to root for, and fun to read about.  With three sisters, I see a solid and entertaining trilogy in my future!

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Paperback | Audible

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