FUNDRAISING THE DEAD:
A Museum Mystery
By Sheila Connolly
Berkley, October, 2010 ($7.99)
Reviewed by Miriam Martinez
In the first book of the "Museum Mystery Series" by Sheila Connolly, Eleanor "Nell" Pratt is a fundraiser for the Pennsylvanian Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia, and if there is something she loves, is to organize fundraising events to collect donations.
On the eve of a gala fundraiser, donor Marly Terwilliger complains that some letters that were part of an important collection of hers are missing because she has asked to see them and no one seems to find them. Nell then asks archivist Alfred Finley about these documents, and he confirms what Ms. Terwilliger said: not only those letters have gone missing, but other pieces from other collections have as well. Nell suspects that someone who visits the place often might be stealing pocket-size artifacts from the collections, but before any research gets started, Alfred Finley is found murdered. This is when Nell starts investigating herself and is now convinced that the criminal must be someone inside the Society.
I think the plot is very interesting, and the first half of the book was "unputdownable." Yet, as the story progressed, a series of unbelievable coincidences started happening and her sleuthing became quite unrealistic. In my personal opinion, this book had the elements to become a masterpiece, but the author got stuck in a set of clichés that in the end didn't work — at least for me.
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