Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Review: Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames (Bodies of Art Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Engaging main characters in a fast paced caper
Cons: Ending a bit rushed
The Bottom Line:
A historic sword
Sends Laurel on adventure
Fun, fast moving read

What a Delightful Ride

There are a lot of books out there I haven’t read and series I haven’t started.  It has absolutely nothing to do with lack of interest on my part; it’s nothing but lack of time.  That’s why I am just now getting to Counterfeit Conspiracies.  Believe me, I wish I’d read this book sooner.

This book introduces us to Laurel Beacham, an art recovery expert who works for the Beacham Institute, founded by her grandfather.  Her job involves traveling all over the globe and retrieving pieces of art that have been stolen or lost to humanity.  Right now, after a job goes sideways in Italy, Laurel is looking forward to a week’s vacation in California.

But on her layover in London, she gets a call from her boss, Max, that puts her vacation plans on hold.  Someone has discovered a sword that might tie into the King Arthur legend and be a step toward proving he was real.  Laurel needs to delay her vacation for just two days to track it down and bring it in.

However, when she stops by to get some additional information from Simon, a co-worker and former boyfriend, she finds someone she’s never seen before searching his office.  Simon isn’t answering his phone.  And Laurel is being followed by a man who dogged her on the job in Italy.  Who can Laurel trust?  Where is Simon?  Can Laurel stay safe long enough to figure out what is going on?

Obviously, this is a caper rather than a traditional cozy.  I didn’t realize that when I picked the book up, but it is very easy to figure that out early on, and I don’t mind.  The change of pace was wonderful, and I got quickly drawn into the story.  The plot moves quickly, with several fun action scenes and plenty of twists and turns along the way.  I never wanted to put this book down.

Because of the nature of the plot, we only get to know Laurel and one other character super well.  The rest of the cast doesn’t get enough page time to be fully fleshed out, but since they don’t get that much page time, it’s really not that big a deal.  We certainly have Laurel’s impression of these characters, and that’s all we really need.  Even some of the characters who do have more page time remain mysteries on purpose because they are still mysteries to Laurel.

My only real complaint about the book (which is very minor) is the ending, which felt rushed.  A few of the plot points brought up earlier in the book are wrapped up in a final scene, meanwhile plenty of threads are left open.  Honestly, I was expecting the opened threads as I was reading.  This book has more of a feel of a TV show pilot than a traditional novel that would be wrapped up in these pages.  Just know that going in and you’ll be fine.  I certainly don’t mind since I enjoyed this book so much and am looking forward to finding out what happens next to Laurel.

With three more books (as of right now) to go in this series, I know I’ve got more great reads in front of me.  If you’ve missed Counterfeit Conspiracies, fix that today.

Once you've read this book, you'll want to read the rest of the Bodies of Art Mysteries.


  1. Thanks so much, Mark! Glad you enjoyed the book :)

  2. Mark, you should try Ritter's other series, the Organized series. Those are my favourite of hers, though they are much more in the vein of a traditional cozy. (If you've seen Hallmark's Garage Sale Mysteries, starring Lori Laughlin, I would liken those two. Shannon and Dani are very much like how I picture Kate and Meg.)

  3. Mark, you're spot on!! Love Ms. Ames style and the whole series...

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  5. Oh, yes, Mark, I agree. I fell in love with Laurel & Jack in this first book. Each one colors in the back story a bit more & fleshes out the characters. As a fan of the series, I only wish there were more pages, more books, more details, more and longer trips to give more time with these characters. I only wish I could un-read these stories so I could have the pleasure of beginning all over again.

  6. I'm intrigued! Enjoyed your review.