Tuesday, March 29, 2022

ARC Review: The Art of the Decoy by Trish Esden

The Art of the Decoy

Trish Esden
Series: A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (April 5, 2022)

Description: Perfect for fans of Jane K. Cleland and Connie Berry, Tricia Esden's series debut is sure to please.

After her mother is sent to prison for art forgery, Edie Brown returns to Northern Vermont to rebuild her family’s fine art and antiques business. She’s certain she can do it now that her mother is gone. After all, butting heads with her mom over bad business practices was what drove Edie away three years ago, including a screwup that landed Edie on probation for selling stolen property.

When Edie scores a job appraising a waterfowl decoy collection at a hoarder’s farmhouse, she’s determined to take advantage of the situation to rebuild the business’s tarnished reputation and dwindling coffers. In lieu of payment, Edie intends to cherry-pick an exceptional decoy carved by the client’s renowned Quebecoise folk artist ancestors. Only the tables turn when the collection vanishes.

Accused of the theft, Edie’s terrified that the fallout will destroy the business and land her in prison next to her mom. Desperate, she digs into the underbelly of the local antiques and art world. When Edie uncovers a possible link between the decoy theft and a deadly robbery at a Quebec museum, she longs to ask her ex-probation officer, and ex-lover, for help. But she suspects his recent interest in rekindling their romance may hide a darker motive.

With the help of her eccentric uncle Tuck and Kala, their enigmatic new employee, Edie must risk all she holds dear to expose the thieves and recover the decoys before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the ruthless thieves themselves catch up with her.

My Thoughts: Edie Brown is back in Northern Vermont trying to save her family's antiques business after her mother is sent to prison for nine months for art forgery. Edie had her own brush with the law when she was accused of selling stolen property. After three years away honing her skills in the antiques and fine arts business, she's back.

When she gets a chance to appraise a collection of carved decoys, she thinks this is the first step of their business recovery. But then the collection goes missing and Edie will be accused of the theft if she doesn't find the decoys in three days. But the missing decoys are only the tip of the iceberg. There was a theft from a Quebec museum which also included a murder that may be connected to the decoys. 

There is also complex family dynamics among the owners of the decoys that have some connection with Edie's mother. Edie's former parole officer and one-time lover is also hovering. Edie would like to trust him, but he fits the profile of the person or persons who stole the decoys.

Throw in the FBI Art Crime Team who might also be looking suspiciously at Edie. Edie, her Uncle Tuck, and new employee Kala have their hands full trying to stay ahead of the FBI and some dastardly villains as they try to get to the decoys first.

This was a fun, action-packed story. I liked most of the characters but didn't form a very good opinion of Edie's mother who seems like a major screw-up although there were hints that her crime might have been another frame job. 

This book is supposed to be the first in a new series. I'll be eager to read the next.

Favorite Quote:
Buy low. Sell high. Be as knowledgeable as possible and sharper than the next person. Have lots of connections. Rules to live by if you want to survive in the antiques and art trades.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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