Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: Shooting Gallery by Hailey Lind aka Juliet Blackwell (Art Lover's Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: A fun romp through the San Francisco art world.
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Great characters and
Plenty of humor.  How could
You go wrong with this?

That Sculpture is a Corpse!

There is no quick and easy way to describe Annie Kincaid, the heroine of the Art Lover's Mysteries.  On the surface, she runs a struggle faux finishing business is San Francisco.  But her grandfather is a notorious art forger, a skill he passed on to Annie when she was a teen.  She is constantly fighting that past.  And it certainly doesn't help when she gets involved in dirty dealings, which is the case in Shooting Gallery, the second book in the series.

 Modern art isn't Annie's thing, but she figures the showing will be a good place to get new clients for her faux finishing business.  And it works in a round about way when Annie is hired by a woman to convince a sculptor to return the statue they've had for years.

But the evening turns interesting when Annie makes a horrid discovery.  What everyone thought was a sculpture of a man hanging from a tree is really a dead body, the artist whose work they are all viewing.  Meanwhile, the Brock Museum next door is being robbed of a painting, and Annie's friend Bryan is the prime suspect.

Now all Annie has to do is find the painting, talk to the reclusive sculptor, and solve a murder.  Which would be easy if her mother hadn't shown up unexpectedly, telling Annie to drop the whole thing.  Why does her mother care?  And where will this all lead?

Obviously with all these plot threads going on, the book is very busy.  Yet the author manages to keep all the balls in the air.  Occasionally, one thread gets dropped for a while, but everything is resolved by the end.  Never once did I have a hard time keeping all the story lines straight, and the book never lost my interest.

Annie is a fun main character.  She is determined to help her friends, make her business work, and solve the case no matter what happens.  Yet her past constantly comes back to haunt her.  While I normally don't go for the criminal main characters, I fully sympathize with Annie because she is trying to stay on the straight and narrow.

And Annie is surrounded by great characters.  Her assistant in the business is wild.  There are two potential love interests, one an art thief and one Annie's respectable landlord who has a girlfriend no one ever sees.  The chemistry between Annie and these men is amazing.  The series characters don't outshine the suspects, however, who are also fully realized people.

What really makes the book fun is the humor.  Annie is rather quick witted, something she is more than willing to turn on herself, especially in the narration.  And some of the situations are rather funny as well.  There is a stakeout that had me absolutely rolling.  Funniest stakeout I've ever seen, that's for sure.

As I mentioned earlier, the book is narrated first person by Annie.  The writing is flawless, pulling us into the story.

Shooting Gallery was enjoyable from start to finish.  I'm already looking forward to catching up with Annie during her next romp.

Looking for more?  Check out the rest of the Art Lover's Mysteries in order.

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