Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to Murder a Millionaire, by Nancy Martin

Nora Blackbird and her two sisters have tumbled down the social ladder a rung or two--their parents, heavily in debt, have retreated to a tropical isle, leaving their three sisters with assets that aren't, well, without encumbrances. Nora, who has the house with a 2 million dollar tax bill, is forced to take a job, writing a society column for a Philadelphia newspaper. Her socialite upbringing puts her in perfect position to move around the social scene, among old friends and acquaintances--even if she does have to wear gowns that were fashionable quite some time ago. When an old friend who owned the paper is murdered during a party she is covering Nora is thrown into the fray, trying to ferret out the murderer, and uncovering secrets about her friends and family in the process. Oh, and did I mention the mob-connected boyfriend? (Who is quite charming, actually)

Nora is a sympathetic heroine--gutsy, but with some vulnerabilities, a woman thrown into a maelstrom and making the best of it. Her sisters are quirky, at best, and their escapades make for an enjoyable foray into the socialite world.

Deadly Appraisal, by Jane K. Cleland

Josie Prescott moved to New Hampshire, escaping a price-fixing scandal at the auction house where she worked in New York, and set up her own antiques appraisal business. She hasn't quite settled in but is building her business and putting down roots. Her business is a sponsor for the Portsmouth Women's Guild fundraiser, an antiques auction. Maisy, a guild member, winds up dead and police Detective Rowcliff isn't so sure that Maisy that was the intended victim. The poison might have been meant for Josie. Who would want Maisy dead? But then, who would want Josie dead?

Josie is a likeable character, multi-dimensional and interesting. Relationships with the other characters are an important part of the story--her working relationship with her employees, the professional--but trusted--relationship with her attorney, and her newly found friendship with her neighbor are woven into the mystery, along with details about antiques and the appraisal business. A good read.