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A vintage snuffbox is almost nicked at a church party. And then…

While antiques diva Lina Townend mans the bric-a-brac table at the party to raise funds to restore St. Jude’s in Kenninge, her doppelganger argues with a man in a cashmere turtleneck and somebody tries to pocket a valuable 17th-century sterling snuffbox. Thinking it had been donated by mistake, Lina takes the treasure home to safeguard it. A pair of ersatz coppers promptly begin spying on the shop she runs with her mentor, aging gay sophisticate Griff. Then somebody breaks into the shop and rigs their car with two tracking devices. Meanwhile, Robin the vicar takes himself off on a retreat; his pregnant inamorata is so overwrought she can barely handle the police investigation under her command; and Lina’s married ex-boyfriend Morris, a mainstay of the Met’s Fine Arts Squad, pops around to jiggle her hormones again. Two copies of the snuffbox come on the market. Lina keeps getting mistaken for her doppelganger. The man in the cashmere turtleneck goes missing. And Lina’s sire, Lord Elham, takes time from swilling champers and forging masterpieces to acknowledge his many by-blows, two of whom strongly resemble Lina. One old codger will die and another will be sent to intensive care before the doppelganger will be identified, the vicar will plan his wedding, Lina will brace herself for Morris’s move to Paris, Griff will serve homemade lemonade in the garden and the vintage snuffbox will be sent to Victoria and Albert.

Lina’s vocabulary lapses are irritating, and Griff calls her “dear” far too many times to be endearing. This entry, more heavy-handed than Ring of Guilt (2011), suggests that it may be time to give the series a rest.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8048-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Severn House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2011


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