Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Consigned to Death by Jane K. Cleland

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of Consigned to Death by Jane K. Cleland on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

Consigned to Death by Jane K. ClelandSynopsis (from the publisher): Jane Prescott's friends thought she was nuts when she left her high-paying New York auction house job and her boyfriend to live on the rugged and beautiful New Hampshire coast. Truth is, Josie wondered a little herself—never mind that her peripheral involvement in a well-publicized price-fixing scandal made the possibility of a new start incredibly enticing.

Things are looking better, though, now that she's got her own antiques auction business up and running and has made something of a success of her new life. That is, until she gets mixed up in murder, and the supremely eligible but emotionally distant local police chief seems to think she's the prime suspect.

Suddenly, Josie has a lot to lose and no desire to leave her new life—or the possibility of a little romance—behind. So she sets her mind on identifying the killer and making the best out of her unfortunate circumstances. After all, Josie is grateful for her second chance in life and knows a third is just too much to ask ... especially with a vicious killer on the loose.

Review: The hallmark of a successful author is to take a premise that's been done before, many times before, and make it seem fresh. Jane K. Cleland has done just that with her debut mystery, Consigned to Death, featuring antiques dealer Josie Prescott.

Cleland herself was once an antiques dealer, and her expertise in the field imparts an authentic quality to Consigned to Death. The descriptions of how items are appraised, valued, and even sold at auction are fascinating and are well integrated into the plot.

Authors frequently try to accomplish too much with their first novel, but Cleland strikes just the right balance here. She provides a background story for Josie, but wisely doesn't dwell on it, allowing the reader the opportunity to learn more about her in future mysteries in this series. The adages of Josie's late father provide a moral compass for her, but with at least one being invoked every chapter, one wonders how long Cleland can keep using them without getting repetitive.

Consigned to Death is an absorbing and impressive first mystery, and readers will no doubt look forward to spending more time with Josie in the future.

Special thanks to BreakThrough Promotions for providing a copy of Consigned to Death for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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