THE SAYERS SWINDLE:
A Book Collector Mystery (Book #2)
By Victoria Abbott
Berkley Prime Crime, December 2013 ($7.99)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Jordan Bingham has a dream job for a book lover, living in a book-filled mansion in Harrison Falls, New York, locating rare and valuable books for wealthy collector Vera Ann Alst, but her job is not without its problems. Vera is a nasty piece of work who is difficult to work for, and the mansion is crumbling around them because the woman is so hated she can't find workmen in the town or surrounding area to fix things.
Young Jordan is so enamored of the written word that she is in love with Lord Peter Wimsey, even though he is a fictional character created by the doyen of the Golden Age of mysteries, Dorothy Sayers. She sees herself as his Harriett Vane, and indeed she does have intelligence — she took the job to save up funds so she can complete grad school — and some ability in crime solving like Harriett. She even has a potential real-life Lord Peter, a devilishly handsome reference librarian who assists her in her search for the missing books.
She lost her parents as a young child, and was raised by her uncles, the charming but felonious Kelly brothers. They gave up a life of wine, women, and loot when they became her guardians, but not all the goings-on at their antique shop are on the level. They taught her many life skills, including lock picking and self-defense skills, and she adores them.
Her friend Karen Smith had been attacked several months previous, and is now recovering from traumatic brain injury. She had acquired and sold the purloined books in good faith, having no idea they were stolen property. Now she is struggling to remember who purchased them from her, with help from Jordan, but it's slow going. Finally she did recall enough to identify the buyer, but when Jordan and Karen visit the man, they find something very strange about him and his family.
Before the story is over, there will be more bodies, mysterious disappearances, and way too much interaction with cops. There's also a lot of fun, interesting book lore, and some masterful detective work.
This is the second in A Book Collector Mystery series, after THE CHRISTIE CURSE. It is a wonderful homage to the writers of The Golden Age of mysteries. I look forward to the next installment in the series.
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