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Book review: Antiques sleuth lights the way

Correspondent

 

‘Glow of Death’ By Jane K. Cleland. Minotaur, 304 pages, $25.99

Antiques are wrapped up in history and sentiment. Anyone who has watched “Antiques Roadshow” knows that a bit of mystery also surrounds antiques as owners and dealers try to find out how a piece ended up where it did. 

The mystery behind antiques also imbues Jane K. Cleland’s series about New Hampshire appraiser Josie Prescott, making her 11th appearance in the lively “Glow of Death.”

In “Glow of Death,” Josie is asked to assess a Tiffany lamp owned by the wealthy Towsons. The knowledgeable Josie knows that most such lamps are actually excellent duplicates. While a good copy can fetch up to $50,000, the real thing can bring in more than $1 million. Naturally, Josie is more than thrilled to discover the lamp is real, and that she will earn an extra commission by selling it for the couple.

Then Ava Towson is found dead in her home. But this woman is not the same person Josie met with days before. And is that the same lamp Josie authenticated? While the police are occupied investigating the couple’s marital problems and finances, Josie does her own sleuthing.

Cleland keeps the plot of “Glow of Death” realistic as Josie is drawn into the investigation because her reputation as an antiques appraiser and business owner are called into question. Josie is an appealing character with a believable love life and solid business skills. She has made Prescott’s not just a place to work, but a place where employees consider her and their coworkers family. Bits of history — from the provenance of the Tiffany lamps to a side story about valuable marbles — are smoothly added to the brisk plot of “Glow of Death.”

Meet the author

Jane K. Cleland will among the guest authors at the annual Sleuthfest conference Feb. 23-26 at Embassy Suites, 661 NW 53rd St., Boca Raton. Sleuthfest, considered to be one of the top conferences devoted to the craft of writing, is sponsored by the Florida chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. Best-selling author David Baldacci will be the keynote speaker; more than 20 authors will be participating in workshops, discussions and panels. For more information, visit Sleuthfest.com.

Oline H. Cogdill  can be reached at olinecog@aol.com.

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