Sorely beset antiques dealers whose merchandise isn’t the only thing with a distressed finish run amok.
Lina Townend, a divvy who just knows when a really valuable bauble can be found lurking amongst dross, is driving home from an auction with her latest treasure when she’s sidetracked by a body she sees lying near a path. Too scared to investigate, she calls the coppers, who think she’s putting them on; after all, the corpse has disappeared. Her business partner, Griff, an aging gay man with posh connections, coddles her, then suggests they take the ancient ring she’s found to Sir Douglas Nelson at the British Museum for authenticating. Before you have time to remind yourself that Lovejoy would be a lot smarter than that, Sir Douglas accuses them of pilfering it. A similar ring turns up, but Lina soon finds the dealer who was selling it brutalized in the loo. And no sooner has a tea service suddenly appeared in the antiques stall Lina is manning than a punter shouts to all the world that it’s stolen. Finally it occurs to Lina that she and Griff are being set up, though the why and the who continue to elude her. The answer, when it comes, beggars common sense and makes one long for the skills of Jonathan Gash.
Griff, with his mannered syntax and dramatic flair, is far more interesting than waiflike Lina, with her language deficits and romantic mishaps (Silver Guilt, 2010, etc.).