Esden’s intricately plotted sequel to 2022’s The Art of the Decoy finds Edie Brown working hard to restore the reputation of her family antiques business in Scandal Mountain, Vt., since Edie’s mother was sent to prison for art forgery. So when Edie hears that Anna Gorin is looking for someone to appraise Anna’s mother’s estate, she jumps at the chance. On offer is mostly quirky tchotchkes, but Edie spots a collage that may be a priceless piece of “outsider art” by the art world’s latest sensation, Vespa, an elderly woman with a disturbing dystopian vision. When Anna tells her the piece was created by her brain-damaged brother, Erik Volkov, as art therapy, Edie is stunned. Is it really a Vespa, or is Erik an undiscovered artistic savant? Either way, the piece could be worth thousands—and the answer to all Edie’s troubles. As Edie investigates the artwork’s true provenance, she uncovers an international money-laundering scheme run by ruthless criminals who think nothing of killing to protect their interests. Esden offers appealing characters, a touch of romance, and a fascinating look into the complex world of art collection. Traditional mystery fans will be satisfied. Agent: Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary. (Apr.)
Praise for A Wealth of Deception:
“[An] intricately plotted sequel . . . Traditional mystery fans will be satisfied.”
“The complex story will appeal to fans of Jane K. Cleland.”
“A mystery with a solid plot, a strong cast of characters, and a tale filled with intrigue throughout.”
—Dru’s Book Musing
“A lot of fun.”
—Red Carpet Crash
“Art, scandal, and danger combine to create this highly recommended mystery.”
Praise for The Art of the Decoy:
“Captivating . . . rich historical and cultural background.”
“Realistic and absorbing.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Sit back and prepare to lose yourself in this Northern Vermont wonderland filled with priceless folk art and people you want to know.”
—Jane K. Cleland, award-winning author of Jane Austen's Lost Letters, the 14th Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery
“All I can say is WOW! With this first novel in the Scandal Mountain Antiques Series, author Trish Esden has knocked it out of the park. With an evocative rural Vermont setting, an intriguing main character with a complicated past, an engaging cast of supporting characters, and a twisty plot that will keep you turning pages, The Art of the Decoy is as close to perfect as they get.”
—Connie Berry, award winning author of A Dream of Death
“A well-drawn Vermont setting, a satisfyingly deep dive into the art and antiques world, and an expert and tricky mystery make this a must-read debut for Esden's clever antiques dealer Edie Brown. Bring on Edie's next adventure!”
—Sarah Stewart Taylor, Vermont author of the Maggie D’arcy mystery series
“Highly recommended for readers who enjoy well-developed characters, sophisticated plotting, and a bit of edginess and adventure in their mysteries.”
—Victoria Gilbert, author of the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series and the Booklovers B&B mystery series
“With its tenacious and endearing female sleuth, a mystery that captivates, and a vibrant cast of suspects, The Art of the Decoy entices from the first page."
—Tessa Wegert, author of Death in the Family and The Dead Season
“With its likable characters, high stakes mystery, and immersive setting, The Art of the Decoy is a great start to a fresh new series.”
—Elizabeth Penney, author of the Cambridge Bookshop Series
“A thrilling, fast-paced mystery with memorable characters and as many twists and turns as the back-country roads of its rural Vermont setting."
—Hank Parker, author of CONTAINMENT: A Thriller
Edie Brown is desperate. Her mother is in prison for art forgery, so Edie moved home to help her uncle with the family business, Scandal Mountain Fine Arts and Antiques. The house needs a new septic system, and the business needs an infusion of cash. When a woman asks for an appraisal of her mother's collectibles, Edie and her Uncle Tuck are not too optimistic. A piece of collage art in a back room has all of Edie's senses on high alert. With that letter V in the corner, it could be a piece by an elderly recluse, an "outsider" artist named Vespa. But the client's story is a little vague, something about her brother and art rehabilitation. When Edie becomes obsessed over the art and starts digging into the brother's history, her boyfriend, Detective Shane Payton, warns her she might be in too deep. Edie and Tuck recognize threats with a break-in and a fire, but they're determined to find the truth behind the powerful, dark artwork. VERDICT Esden's background in and extensive knowledge of antiques is evident in the follow-up to The Art of the Decoy. The complex story will appeal to fans of Jane K. Cleland's "Josie Prescott Antiques" mysteries.—Lesa Holstine
A dealer in antiques and fine art uncovers a scam that marks her for death.
Edie Brown is struggling to prop up her family business after her mother was jailed for art forgery and Edie put on probation. Still struggling financially, she makes a potentially lucrative discovery. While picking through items for Anna Gorin, who’s looking for advice about the best pieces to offer in her yard sale, Edie and her uncle, Angus Tuckerman, discover a large collage that looks like the work of the famous artist Vespa. Vespa, rumored to be an elderly recluse, is a Grandma Moses type whose work is brutally realistic. Anna claims that the collage is the work of her brother, Erik Volkov, whom an accident left with a traumatic brain injury 12 years ago. She’s not interested in selling, but Edie, convinced the piece is a Vespa, thinks a commission on the sale would go a long way to solving her financial problems. She gets an odd vibe from her lover, Det. Shane Payton, who was once her probation officer and is now with the state police, when she talks to him about Vespa. Bent on discovering whether Erik is actually Vespa, she gets advice from a friend who owns some Vespas and does some research that turns up a lot of odd coincidences. When a connection to the Russian Mafia surfaces, Shane become even more closemouthed, putting a strain on their relationship. But Edie won’t rest until the truth comes out.
A character-based mystery perfect for art lovers and antiques buffs.