A stolen gem with a tragic history, a curse and a million dollar ransom is Mac McKenzie's latest case, in David Housewright's Curse of the Jade Lily
Several years ago, Rushmore McKenzie became an unexpected millionaire and set about doing not much of anything. Now, showing up at his doorstep is the insurance company that paid the settlement that made him rich—and they want a favor. Someone has stolen a very expensive gem from a local art museum and is willing to ransom it back. The only condition is that McKenzie has to be the go between. And this is no ordinary gem—it is a jade with a history going back to the Qing Dynasty and a reputed curse that stories claim has ruined or killed everyone who has ever owned it. McKenzie agrees to help but what starts out as a simple ransom quickly becomes complicated.
Suddenly other parties—including the State Department and a mysterious woman named Heavenly—start showing up, wanting McKenzie to turn over the gem to them. When the murdered body of on of the thieves turns up in a snow drift, it looks like the cursed Jade Lily has claimed its latest victim. And there may well be more to follow…
The theft of a fabulous sculpture, the Jade Lily, from the City of Lakes Art Museum propels Housewright's excellent ninth mystery featuring Twin Cities PI Rushmore McKenzie (after 2011's Highway 61). The "artnappers" are willing to sell the Lily back to the museum for $1.3 million, a third of its insured value, and specify McKenzie to deliver the ransom. McKenzie soon discovers that the museum isn't alone in wanting the sculpture. Other claimants who want McKenzie to acquire the Lily for them include gorgeous Heavenly Petryk (last seen in 2009's Jelly's Gold); a U.S. State Department official, partnered with a blustery representative of the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and a corrupt cop. All have different but effective means of applying pressure. McKenzie, who navigates a treacherous path just to stay (barely) alive, not only delivers a Nick Charles like ending but metes out poetic justice to a fair number of participants.