At The Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques, fundraiser Eleanor "Nell" Pratt solicits donations-and sometimes solves crimes. When a collection of George Washington's letters is lost on the same day that an archivist is found dead, it seems strange that the Society president isn't pushing for an investigation. Nell goes digging herself, and soon uncovers a long, rich history of crime.
Old families, old papers, and the old demons of sex and money shape Connolly's cozy series launch, which will appeal to fans of her Orchard and (as Sarah Atwell) Glassblowing mysteries. The venerable and cliquish Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society has a security problem. Documents worth millions are missing, and the staffer who uncovers the losses is found dead in the stacks. Nell Pratt, the society's director of development, is instructed by board member Marty Terwilliger to account for the absence of Marty's ancestor's correspondence with George Washington. It's a rare improbability why ask the fund-raiser and not the director of collections or the board itself? in an otherwise sturdily constructed plot. There are no real surprises, but the archival milieu and the foibles of the characters are intriguing, and it's refreshing to encounter an FBI man who is human, competent, and essential to the plot.