Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review - Monument to the Dead: A Museum Mystery


Monument to the Dead: A Museum Mystery

By: Sheila Connolly
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 978-0425257128
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 2013

Nell Pratt felt ever so slightly rapacious when she perused the obituaries. Morbid, true, but also somewhat necessary. As the president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian society, she was well aware of the need for bequests and perhaps Adeline Harrison had left them a tidy sum. Maybe a large one if they were lucky. With three new hires, the need to catalog the Terwilliger collection, and numerous items courtesy of the FBI, things were hopping at the Society. Another thing that was picking up speed was her relationship with Special Agent James Morrison. The FBI would frown on Nell's involvement with his cases if they found out they were dating, but what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them.

"I think," James broke it to Nell, "Adeline Harrison was murdered." Needless to say she was shocked, but James went on to explain that he suspected a connection between Adeline's death and that of Frederick Van Deusen, another well-heeled philanthropist. There was something fishy about "elevated medications" in their blood. When Nell ran the theory by Martha "Marty" Terwilliger, James's cousin, Marty had a hard time believing that someone was running around bumping off old socialites, but couldn't help wondering if she'd be next. It wouldn't hurt to put Shelby Carver to work on finding out how some of Philadelphia's elderly philanthropists died.

One Benton Snyder was soon added to the list and it appeared to be a gruesome threesome. It was totally shocking to think a "serial killer was preying on the elderly Philadelphia cultural elite." There was definitely something hinky going on and everyone was getting more rattled by the minute. Edith Oakes was soon added to the list and Nell had to really sort out the facts with James before she read about Marty in the obits. Things began to come together rapidly. "You know, don't you?" the voice snarled, "That's why you've been keeping tabs on me." Yes, Nell knew ... and she also knew she was in trouble, big trouble!

This mystery snagged my attention as soon as Nell started browsing the obituaries because I knew there would be more than one corpse in this cozy mystery. The characters were well-developed and the Society grouping was quite an interesting and cohesive group. Nell is quite a capable sleuth and I loved the way she worked all sorts of small angles (with a little help from James) to find out how and why the victims were being targeted. The glimpse at strategic fundraising with the cultural elite was interesting to say the least. This mystery was a bit classier than most and even weaves a bit of Philadelphia history in its pages. Fun, fatally appealing, and definitely one you should add to your list.

Quill says: You won't need a docent to tell you that Sheila Connolly's "Museum Mystery" series is a classic!