The discovery of a mysterious antique trunk leads to a disappearance—and murder—in the latest in this beloved cozy series set on the rugged New Hampshire coast, Jane K. Cleland's Hidden Treasure.
When antiques expert Josie Prescott finds a mysterious trunk, no one thinks it could lead to murder. Josie, the owner of Prescott’s Antiques & Auctions, and her new husband, Ty, have finally found their dream home, a Victorian beauty on the beach known in the town of Rocky Point as the “Gingerbread House.” It was recently vacated by Maudie Wilson, an aging widow, whose concerned nieces have moved her into a nearby assisted living facility. Josie befriends Maudie, who seems surprisingly sharp, considering her family’s doubts about her soundness of mind.
As Josie and Ty joyfully begin renovations on the Gingerbread House, the nieces report that Maudie, in her forgetfulness, may have left behind an old trunk, which she’s desperate to get back. Sure enough, Josie finds the trunk inside a hidden compartment, and within it a jewel-encrusted box holding a sculpture of a cat. Josie can understand the sense of urgency about getting the objects back—they look valuable, and not just in the sentimental sense.
But when Josie goes to return the box to Maudie, the woman has vanished. And on the floor of her empty apartment lies a corpse, a woman bludgeoned to death. Sick with worry for Maudie’s safety, Josie begins to piece together the clues to the murder. Everyone around her seems to want to pitch in, from Maudie’s family, to the receptionist at the facility, to the young couple helping Josie with her renovations, but with the killer so close to home, Josie has to be on her guard.
In Cleland's delightful 13th mystery featuring Rocky Point, N.H., antiques dealer Josie Prescott (after 2018's Antique Blues), Josie and her new husband have purchased a Victorian house they plan to renovate. After the closing, the previous owner, elderly Maudie Wilson, realizes she may have left an old trunk in the house, though she doesn't know where. Josie locates the trunk, which contains a jewel box and other artifacts, but when she goes to Mrs. Wilson's apartment to return them, the woman is missing. Josie plans to feature the trunk's discovery and its contents on the antiques TV show she hosts, until the jewel box and other artifacts, which she's removed from the trunk, mysteriously disappear. A murder raises the ante. Besides the knowledgeable and compassionate protagonist, the cast includes numerous townsfolk who'll be familiar to series regulars, each a distinct character. Full of red herrings, the twisty plot builds to a satisfying conclusion, and descriptions of the authentication process are a bonus. Antiques Roadshow fans will have fun.