“Langton brings back the Golden Age Murder with style, wit, and charm” as scholar/sleuth Homer Kelly finds Boston’s famous museum has become a crime scene (Tony Hillerman).
There are frogs in the pond at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. A balloon has been tied to one of the sculptures in the small museum’s hallowed halls. And, worst of all, someone has moved paintings while no one was looking. At most museums these pranks would be an annoyance, but at the Gardner—whose founder stipulated that the museum be disbanded if the original collection is ever disturbed—they could spell disaster. The Gardner’s board hires Harvard professor and former police lieutenant Homer Kelly to investigate the mischief. Hardly an art lover, Kelly has trouble taking the threat seriously at first. But when a museum patron is found dead after catching the prankster in the act, Homer springs into action. He may know nothing about art, but murder is something he understands all too well.
Within the palatial walls of Boston's Gardner Museum, paintings by Botticelli and Titian shed artistic light on a hodgepodge of lesser collectibles, all forever fixed in place as decreed by the inflexible terms of Isabella Stewart Gardner's will, which demands that the whole collection be auctioned off should any changes or unwelcome disturbances occur. The museum's very boyish director, Titus Moon, turns a blind eye to such pranks as tadpoles in the courtyard fountain and ghostly music in the galleries, but even he is appalled when a particularly awful benefactor meets an untimely end. Langton (Good and Dead) tucks her tongue firmly in cheek before treating readers to a wild and wholly enjoyable ride on the trail of the dangerous trickster. Although a bit light on motive and suspense, this exceedingly charming mystery more than makes up its weight in laughs called down upon the antics of one hapless character after the nextexuberant Polly, who gallumphs through cataloguing chores, wise and wily Catherine Rule, and the ubiquitous Mrs. Garboyle, who seems to be running Boston single-handedly from her basement apartment. Elegant line drawings by the author accompany the text.