Sunday is a Day of Rest

Boy, this blog challenge is a pest!

Sorry…I’ve got Marvin-itis and felt this uncontrollable urge to rhyme…

Definitely off to a slow start today. Dave and I went to a wine tasting and sushi dinner with the Julie half of Hailey Lind (the two sister writing team of the Art Lover mysteries) last night and we had a very fun evening. It wasn’t a lot of wine or a lot of sake, but it took a while for me to consider getting out of bed to be a good idea.

Julie is also the President of Sisters in Crime Nor Cal and one of those people who will always have ageless beauty. Her eyes and her smile are the first thing one notices about her; she has the kind of smile that lights up a room. I think I’ve mentioned in a past post about Left Coast Crime how I was wandering around my first day feeling out of place and uncharacteristically shy until Julie greeted me, took me under her wing and invited me out for drinks with a small group of people. That gesture and getting to know just a few people over drinks broke the social ice for me at Left Coast Crime and I ended up having a blast. Julie is the perfect person to be president of an organization (except maybe the Mafia, although she’d probably be a very beloved Don…er…Donna?) and is also one hell of a good writer (as is her sister, who I have not met).

I’ve read all three of the Art Lovers mysteries, although I managed to read them in backwards chronological order. I was amazed at how few (if any) spoilers occurred by reading them that way; there were no major plot recaps of the previous books, no ‘I wish I’d known two months ago that so and so was actually a murderer. This is a problem I’ve been wrestling with while writing my sequel – how to bring back characters who were prime suspects in MFH #1 without spoiling it for someone who, like myself, reads things out of sequence? So hats off to Hailey (both of ’em).

These books are all funny, fast-paced and full of interesting details about art – the heroine, Annie is an artist and has a business (like Julie herself) doing art restoration, faux finishing, painting murals and whatever else comes along. The writing style is very reminiscent of Elizabeth Peters in her heyday, namely the Vicky Bliss/John Smythe series, which happens to be my favorite. It was a pleasure to discover this series and I am now royally pissed that Hailey’s publisher has decided not to release any more of them. Way too many unfinished character developments, publisher person! It takes a few books in any series before they pick up a huge following, but it’s worth the investment and these books do have an ever expanding audience. Hailey Lind does have a new series coming out, which sounds equally intriguing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to find out what happens with Annie’s two love interests.

I have stolen these three synopses from Hailey’s home page (link provided above). If you haven’t read these, give them a try. If you have, write a letter to Hailey’s publisher and tell them to keep the series going!

Book Three—Brush with Death: Working nights to restore murals in a building full of cremated remains is strange enough, but chasing a crypt-robbing ghoul through a graveyard is downright creepy. In Brush with Death, San Francisco artist Annie Kincaid finds herself drawn into a decades-old mystery involving some illustrious graveyard residents and Raphael’s most intimate portrait, dubbed La Fornarina, or “the little baker girl”. Could the Raphael “copy” hanging amidst funerary urns actually be the priceless original? Is the masked crypt-robber somehow connected to the Raphael? Or is the painting part of a larger puzzle involving Annie’s unrepentant grandfather, master art forger Georges LeFleur, and an Italian “fakebuster” out to ruin him? Annie’s under pressure to figure things out…before she finds her permanent home amongst the ashes.

Book Two—Shooting Gallery: Modernism isn’t Annie’s thing, but even she is surprised to discover that the “sculpture” in a prestigious gallery’s grisly new exhibition is an all-too-real corpse—the artist’s. Meanwhile, a Chagall painting is stolen from the Brock Museum, and Annie’s old friend Bryan is accused of being in on the fix. To track down the missing Chagall, she’ll need the dubious assistance of a certain sexy art thief. And if Michael—or whatever his real name may be—isn’t distraction enough, Annie’s mother shows up in town, acting strangely. Annie’s got to solve these mysteries, and fast—because art is long, but life can be very, very short.

Book One—Feint of Art: Annie’s got bad news for her ex-boyfriend, curator Ernst Pettigrew; The snooty Brock Museum’s new fifteen-million-dollar Caravaggio painting is as fake as a three-dollar bill. Then, the same night Annie makes her shattering appraisal, the janitor on duty in the museum is killed—and Ernst disappears. To top it all off, a well-known art dealer has absconded with multiple Old Master drawings, leaving forgeries in their places. Finding the originals and pocketing the reward money will help Annie get her landlord off her back. But a close encounter with a fickle yet charming art thief could draw her into the underworld of fakes and forgers she swore she’d left behind…