A contested case of finders keepers turns deadly in upstate New York.
The picturesque Adirondack village of Barton may be a far cry from Veronica Walsh’s former home on the set of a recently canceled soap opera, but Veronica’s enjoying a more leisurely life as a boutique owner and the companion of history professor Mark Burke. Village charm changes to rancor when Scott Culverson, a young architect who’s one of Mark’s former students, buys an antique letterbox that surprisingly contains a valuable miniature painting by the late local artist George Bradshaw. Is Scott entitled to keep the painting? Should it belong to Ella and Madeline Griffin, who had originally owned the box, as their grandniece Regina contends? They’d given it away without knowing about the painting and an accompanying letter that identifies it as a gift for their mother. Is it rightfully the property of the man to whom Ella and Madeline gave the box? He sold it to Scott at a flea market, but now he insists the sale included only the box and not its contents. Or should Bradshaw’s rich, influential daughter, Leona Kendall, and her children get the painting? While the various parties threaten lawsuits, someone stabs Scott to death with a cheese knife and steals the painting. Ella and Madeline beg Veronica to investigate unofficially; they’re worried that Regina will be the prime suspect, especially since she has no alibi. Besides, Leona is rumored to have a judge or two in her pocket, and perhaps the police as well. Veronica pitches in by blithely removing a silver watch she finds from the crime scene, shadowing a mysterious woman in black, enmeshing herself in local property politics—and ending up precariously placed when she finds out who killed Scott.
As chatty and replete with hometown detail as Quigley’s debut (All Things Murder, 2014). But gentle humor and an amiable lead make up for all those digressions.