A post-World War II “cozy” mystery about a museum heist, a missing child, a murder, a recent ex-con and an even more recent widow.
In Hartford, Connecticut, 1949, Juliet Van Allen, a museum administrator, discovers that her artist husband is having an affair with another woman. Just a wee bit shocked, Juliet slips unseen back to her office to mull over her options and wish the earth would swallow her, when she meets an intruder. Elmer Vartanian, recently released from prison for a museum robbery, is coerced into helping scout the museum for a heist by a gang that has kidnapped his daughter. When her husband is found murdered, Juliet becomes the prime suspect, and Elmer is her only alibi.
Juliet, the rebellious only daughter of a wealthy financier, and Elmer, a lower-class ex-convict who has educated himself in prison, must partner to solve their separate crises. She is Elmer’s guide to a post-war world that has changed so much since he entered prison. He feels guilty for having missed his daughter’s childhood, for being safe when friends were killed in World War II, and is bewildered over atomic energy, Modern Art, ballpoint pens, and frozen orange juice concentrate.
Juliet is not sure she believes Elmer’s story. Elmer is not sure she didn’t kill her husband, yet they are compelled to work together, dogged by the scandal-monger newsman, the shrewd police detective, and scrutinized by the even more judgmental eye of Hartford’s elite in world where Modern Art meets old-fashioned murder.
About Jacqueline T. Lynch:
Jacqueline T. Lynch’s novels are available as ebooks from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Several of her plays have been published and produced around the U.S., Canada, and one of which was translated into Dutch and performed several times in the Netherlands. Her ONE GOOD TURN premiered as a winner of the 2011 Northern Kentucky University Y.E.S. Festival. Her one-act play IN MEMORY OF TRIXIE GAZELLE was chosen as a winner in the 2010 Nor’Eastern Playwright’s Showcase of the Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre in Rutland, Vermont. She has published articles and short fiction in regional and national publications, including the anthology “60 Seconds to Shine: 161 Monologues from Literature” (Smith & Kraus, 2007), North & South, Civil War Magazine, History Magazine, and writes Another Old Movie Blog and New England Travels blog.
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Reader review . . .
It’s 1949 in Hartford, Connecticut, and Juliet has just caught her husband with another woman. While having a good cry in her office after hours, she is surprised to see a man drop from the vent in the ceiling. Elmer, a recent parolee, is being blackmailed into helping a gang of thieves with their plans to rob the museum where Juliet works. When she returns home to find her husband murdered, she needs Elmer as her alibi. As they work together to find the killer and clear her name, this odd couple grows closer together. Juliet is there as Elmer deals with the guilt that he feels for being absent from his daughter’s life and not being available to fight in WWII. The novel comes to a dramatic conclusion that leaves the reader wanting more from this pair.
This novel could have gone horribly wrong, if not for the author’s skillful writing. Avoiding the stereotype of the spoiled, rich girl, the character of Juliet is likeable. Elmer was fleshed out beyond the cardboard character of “the ex-con”. His internal struggles with guilt, shame, and grief draw the reader’s sympathy.
The ending somehow has a “To be continued…” feel, so this will hopefully not be the last we read of Juliet and Elmer.
This book was provided by Cozy Mystery Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.