After their parents’ deaths, Avery Ayers and her teenaged sister, Tilly, take over the family business, Antiquities & Artifacts Appraised. Life in Lilac Grove is filled with jewels, tapestries, paintings…and the antics of eccentric Aunt Midge. But their world is rocked when they learn that the theft of a priceless ruby may be connected to their parents’ demise.
The trouble starts when the Museum of Antiquities hires Avery to appraise a rare, resplendent ruby. It bears a striking similarity to a stone in the museum’s bejeweled dragon’s-head medallion. One of the dragon’s ruby eyes was stolen long ago–replaced with a fake. Now, Avery’s colleagues–pompous Sir Robert Lane and fatherly Micah Abbott–suspect they may have the missing gem. But facets of the case remain cloudy. Detective Art Smith is snooping around. Another body turns up. And Avery finds mysterious notes that, impossibly, seem to be written by her father.
Accompanied by her Afghan hound, Avery enlists Art’s help in cutting the list of suspects who might have polished off her parents and swiped the jewel. Was it art collector Oliver Renell? Curator Nate Brennan? Actor Tyler Chadwick? Or was the theft an inside job, perpetrated by someone all too close to Avery? If she can’t find the culprit, Lilac Grove may be the setting for Avery’s own death.
Source: NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books Rating: 3/5 stars
The Bottom Line: Yet again, I must admit to struggling with a read I truly expected to blaze through. It took me days to finish this book and I think it had to do with the wonkiness of the plot. There is a lot going on in this book, between the project Avery and her partners are working on to the suspicions surrounding the deaths of Avery’s parents. While the two stories are actually intertwined, I found the blending of the two to be somewhat clunky and awkward. I also found the pacing of the first two-thirds of the book to be somewhat slow and it wasn’t until the last third that the pace picked up and I was able to move more easily towards the end. Though I struggled with this book, I like author (another series I follow!) and the cast of characters in this book. I have faith the second book will overcome some of the clunkiness of this read and I will more thoroughly enjoy the succeeding books in this series. I am not yet ready to kick this series to the curb and will dive into the second book as it becomes available.