Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review: Arsenic and Old Paint by Hailey Lind (Art Lover's Mystery #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters; fun story
Cons: Rushed ending
The Bottom Line
Ending was too rushed
Still filled with fun characters
And a fun story




Rushed Ending to a Fun Mystery

Before Juliet Blackwell started writing under that name, she wrote a series involving art with her sister under the name Hailey Lind.  Arsenic and Old Pain is the fourth of those, and it’s another wild romp through San Francisco and the seedier side of art.

The series stars Annie Kincaid, a former art forger and granddaughter of a famous art forger.  Now, she’s trying to go straight running a faux finishing business.  She’s also just started an art investigation business with the mysterious Michael X. Johnson, potentially reformed art thief.

Annie Kincaid has landed a job at the exclusive Fleming-Union Club.  This centuries old male only club only allows the richest of the rich inside, unless they are going the grunt work like Annie.  That’s why she’s on hand when a man’s body is found in a tub posed to look like a semi-famous painting – a detail that Annie quickly picks up on.

Then she gets two more jobs for her new investigative business.  First, she’s hired to find out what the story is behind a supposedly stolen painting that just resurfaced.  Then she’s hired to find a missing statue.  But when the cases take a personal twist, will Annie be able to solve them in time?

As our main character and narrator, Annie is a delight.  Her past is very much a part of who she is, yet it’s something she’s put behind her.  I love the supporting cast as well; frankly, I would have loved to see more of them here.  The romantic triangle between Annie, Michael, and her landlord takes an interesting twist here and definitely leaves you wanting another book in the series.

The plot is inventive as always, and I never saw where this one was going – especially when we wound up in a S&M club.  Unfortunately, I felt the ending was rushed.  Yes, everything makes sense, but the last couple of twists aren’t fully explained and a few key pieces are almost given to Annie and us as after thoughts.  It’s almost like the author ran out of room so did the best they could.

On the other hand, the writing is strong.  It’s easy to get lost in Annie’s life and struggles even if you aren’t that interested in art.  I know I do easily with every book.

The first three were published with a different publisher and Perseverance Pressed picked up this book after the original publisher canceled the series.  There are some rumors we might get more, but no official word yet.

In the meantime, if you haven’t found Annie, track these books down.  They are best read in order, but you’ll be enjoying Arsenic and Old Pain before you know it.

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

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