COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES

COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES

by Ritter Ames

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Overview

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

"This fast-paced, action-filled whodunit was enjoyable and hard to put down. The mystery was good, the characters are likeable and it was fun to watch all the pieces come together in this well-written drama. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series." - Dru's Book Musings

"Funny, fast paced and just a smidge of romance. What more could you ask for? Bring on the next one!" - T. Sue Versteeg, Author of My Ex-Boyfriend's Wedding

"A high-octane, fast-paced thrill ride of a mystery adventure that will definitely leave you anxious for the next installment." - Girl with Book Lungs

"This fast-paced mystery had me reading far past my usual time for bed. I simply couldn't put it down because I was so drawn into the story. It's simply wonderful!" - Dianne Harman, Author of the Cedar Bay Cozy Mysteries

"The book takes you on car chases, shooting, great locations around the world all in the hopes of finding a missing friend and lost artifact. I read the book three times enjoying each time." - Heidi Wimmer, Book Him Danno

"An intricately woven tale with plenty of action and suspense. The story is crafted in such a way to keep readers guessing. The characters are well-written with smart and witty dialogue. An enjoyable read." - A Cozy Book Nook

"A fast-paced book, and to save the day, Laurel takes you with her every step of the way on subways, planes, fast cars, and motorcycles all while being in danger. This book is truly a keeper, jump in a go for a ride!" - Destiny's Book Reviews

"I love the main character of Laurel. She is not just smart - she is quick on the uptake and manages to get herself out of many tight spots...a fast-paced, well-plotted read. I could not put this book down. I hope we get to read many more adventures with Laurel in the future. So if you like a mystery with a touch of James Bond, you should be reading Counterfeit Conspiracies." - Cheryl Green, MyShelf Reviews

Laurel Beacham may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she has long since lost it digging herself out of trouble. Her father gambled and womanized his way through the family fortune before skiing off an Alp, leaving her with more tarnish than trust fund. Quick wits and connections have gained her a reputation as one of the world's premier art recovery experts. The police may catch the thief, but she reclaims the missing masterpieces.

The latest assignment, however, may be her undoing. Using every ounce of luck and larceny she possesses, Laurel must locate a priceless art icon and rescue a co-worker (and ex-lover) from a master criminal, all the while matching wits with a charming new nemesis. Unfortunately, he seems to know where the bodies are buried-and she prefers hers isn't next.

Related subjects include: women sleuths, cozy mysteries, amateur sleuth books, murder mysteries, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations.

Books in the Bodies of Art Mystery Series:

• COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES (#1)
• MARKED MASTERS (#2)
• ABSTRACT ALIASES (#3) October 2016

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all...

Author Bio:

Ritter Ames lives atop a high green hill in the country with her husband and Labrador retriever, and spends each day globe-trotting the art world from her laptop with Pandora blasting into her earbuds. Often with the dog snoring at her feet. Much like her Bodies of Art Mysteries, Ritter's favorite vacations start in London, then spiral out in every direction. She's been known to plan trips after researching new books, and keeps a list of "can't miss" foods to taste along the way. Visit her at www.ritterames.com where she blogs about all the crazy things that interest her.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943390458
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 252
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Counterfeit Conspiracies

A Bodies of Art Mystery


By Ritter Ames

Henery Press

Copyright © 2015 Ritter Ames
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-943390-48-9


CHAPTER 1

Clouds shrouded the moon. The Dobermans, Zeus and Apollo, snoozed by the rose bushes after devouring the tasty treat I had offered. Waves crashed in the distance and gave the crisp sea air a taste and smell of salt spray. The estate's showplace lawn ended a hundred yards away at a private beach.

Like my previous visit, I wore head-to-toe black. For this jaunt, however, I hadn't donned the ebony-beaded Vera Wang halter gown and Jimmy Choo stilettos I sported the last time. No, for the current foray, my Lycra garb more closely resembled Catwoman with my blonde hair hidden under a dark hood. Night vision goggles finished off the ensemble. The difference between arriving invited versus an incognito — and illegal — entrance. I pulled up my turtleneck to cover the lower part of my face and fitted night vision goggles over my eyes.

As I slipped through the mansion's side door, the left wall security pad flashed. I patted the ring of leather pouches attached to my belt and removed a cute little gizmo I'd picked up in Zurich that resembled a garage door opener. Only this handy gadget decoded electronic security systems, rendering them harmless. The tiny warning whine never had a chance to turn into a scream; my device made friends and invited us to enter.

I slipped down the rear hall and up the staircase my research had uncovered in a back issue of Architectural Digest. At the upper landing, infrared lasers protected the area from unwelcome visitors. I opened another pouch, withdrew a small, specially formulated aerosol can, and sprayed in a sweeping pattern. As the particles fell, laser lines were revealed in vivid detail. Seconds later, I'd picked the lock on the turret gallery door.

The last time I stood in the gallery the master of the house provided a guided tour and made a blatant pass beneath the gaze of a Dutch Master. My ability to deflect the Lothario took grace and diplomacy, plus restraint to curb the strong desire to disable his favorite body part. Still, the event had been worth the effort. A six-month quest was over, and I had found my Holy Grail of paintings.

"My father started this collection," the slimy billionaire had bragged. "He made purchases while stationed in Europe in the mid-1940s. I added to the works and specially constructed this temperature-controlled castle safe room."

On this return visit — my acquisition finale — I slid into the darkened gallery. The circular space, lit only by the minimal luminosity filtering through a half-dozen narrow arched windows, allowed my shadow to mix with those already in residence. Night vision goggles allowed the glorious set of Rembrandts and French Impressionists to glow alongside the beauty I came to liberate.

It was a vibrant seascape, circa 1821, and a breathtaking scene of energy and clear passion. A little known work by a well-respected artist, which had been cherished by the family of its previous owner before eventually falling into the hands of the billionaire's father. Gazing upon the work, I could almost hear the buoy bell ringing in the distance, but the room's current illumination left the scene too dark to see beyond the receding foamy water. I shivered as if the wind picked up; the painting was that powerful.

I heard a noise. A human-moving noise.

I had to hurry. I slipped a blade from my belt and ran it along the frame's edge.

The moment the canvas was free, I heard the master of the house bark, "What are you doing?"

I spun to find him standing behind me. Holding his gaze, I sheathed my knife and dug into another pouch, then threw a capped vial into the darkness between myself and potential capture. The glass broke, and when the chemicals inside hit the air, a dense smoke obscured all vision. But I had already calculated the distance to the nearest window, moved to it, and affixed a suction cup with a braided nylon line to the wall. The painting protected in one hand, my remaining gloved fist, now fitted with brass knuckles, shattered the narrow pane. I slid through the turret's slit window, taking a few shards of glass along for the ride. Then I rappelled down the rough stone wall to the manicured lawn.

"Zeus! Apollo! Robbery! Attack!" my impotent enemy screamed.


Next morning, the painting and I slipped into the back of Greg's shop for the new frame constructed per my specifications. A close facsimile to photos, and infinitely better than the garish gold number that restrained the seascape during its turret imprisonment, the burnished brass frame even evoked a nautical theme that conjured the look of a spyglass.

I changed into blue coveralls and left his shop with the newly framed painting wrapped in brown paper. Magnetic signs attached to my van implied a courier service, as did the faked breast pocket insignia on my uniform. The drive to Mrs. Lebowitz's tiny home was quick.

"Yes?" she said, answering the door. A Holocaust survivor, the only one in her family to make it out of Europe alive, she was a child when the Allies freed her from Auschwitz.

My brown-wrapped package once graced her grandmother's dining room. Before it was stolen by Nazis and purchased with fictionalized provenance by my adversary's father. One of my pro bono projects to not only return the art to its true owner, but to insure masterpieces such as this one did not get locked away from public sight.

"Mrs. Lebowitz, I have a very special delivery."


Eighteen hours and one chartered jet flight to Italy later, I was still running on adrenalin as I played the part of an art world socialite representing the New York based Beacham Foundation. Easy enough, since I'd perfected the role over the last five years, except that nothing was going right tonight.

"A quick and easy pickup," Max, my boss, had told me. "Everything is taken care of. Don't worry."

It was another black-tie affair with nothing more to go on than a name and small photo that Nico, my research wizard, had slipped me earlier with a flute of Dom Pérignon. Not a perfect method but it worked for us. As the foundation's leading art recover expert my life was pretty much a series of different hotel rooms every week. Tonight's event was one of a series of smaller jobs directing me to the person who held an art object I needed to return to the person or institution that had true ownership. Mrs. Lebowitz's job had been a rushed opportunity when I had little choice, since I'd not only learned the painting's location, but also information regarding a potential sale in the works. On the other hand, this evening's pickup at another glittery party was "my day job."

Despite Max's assurances, things began tanking with a flourish before I'd even arrived. First, I'd received a bogus text with driving instructions that sent me in the wrong direction. Once I'd found the correct location, I went in search of my objective in the early meet-and-greet stages of the party. Our contact in the photo was nowhere to be found, despite my best efforts in searching this extensive castillo. Finally, and probably the most disturbing after all that had gone wrong, I'd noticed one of the attendees seemed a bit too interested in me. I'd dodged him once in the entry, again in the ballroom. And here he was again. Churning through the crowd like a heat-seeking missile. A Rhett Butler wannabe in Armani. There was a canniness to the way he looked at me that said I was an assignment instead of a prospective assignation.

I tried to figure which camp he fit into, but got nada. With so many players in the art game, it was hard to keep everyone straight, both above and below ground. But a new American would have stayed in my memory, especially a tall male one with a deep Southern accent. Was it simple egoism, or did he work for someone plotting against me? My money lay on the latter. Especially after the diverting text.

He blocked my way. "How 'bout we take a late night stroll outside? A lil birdie tol' me the air on this Italian bay is soft as warm satin slidin' over your skin."

Disregarding my first impulse, which would have left him with a broken nose, I kept my breathing and temper at even levels. I needed to find out what his game really was — but not now.

"Why don't you ask that lil ol' birdie to join you?" Did the bogus text come from Mr. Wonderful, here? The man who had paid me too much attention to me all evening? My palms were damp as I ran them down my black sheath, ostensibly to smooth the material around my hips, but actually to dry my sweating palms.

"I'm afraid that lil birdie has moved on to bigger and better things." One of his strides halved the distance between us. "You know, honey, while gentlemanly manners forbid I refer to a lady by anything other than beautiful, I must say you're looking very pale at this moment, even for a natural blonde, Miss ..."

Miss None of Your Business! But I wasn't fooled. I saw the intelligence behind those teal eyes. He knew I was Laurel Beacham. Hell, he probably knew my middle name was Iris and I'd streaked through the Cornell library freshman year. I didn't know how he knew — just that he did. I also knew anger had replaced any paleness on my face with a bright blush.

"I'm sorry, I don't feel well," I lied, turning before he could stop me. I strode quickly down a hall, relieved when a discreet lavatory door offered refuge.

I took a couple of deep breaths, regaining my composure. Though, as I looked around the lavatory, that composure quickly died.

A mosaic-tile wall separated the toilet from the lavish dressing salon. A pair of wingtips peeked from behind the wall at an awkward angle. I hurried around the wall and stopped short.

There was no mistaking him. Propped on the john was the man from the photo who I was supposed to meet. Half of his handlebar moustache was jaggedly slashed and discarded on the floor, while blood from a gash at his throat spilled down his round belly and onto the cushioned turquoise seat.

Even as nausea hit, my mind ticked over the possibilities. From the look of things, he had been dead only a few minutes. No blood trail, so he'd been killed where he sat.

I frisked him, careful not to touch skin as I explored bulges that could be the seventeenth-century snuffbox I'd been sent to recover, but the search proved fruitless. Something wasn't right. The snuffbox, though a valuable art object, didn't warrant taking the man's life. I needed to get somewhere safe and call Max, let him handle what had obviously become a complicated job. That's why he made the big bucks. Too many slipups already, and I needed to move quickly before I lost my nerve. The subliminal message all night seemed to intentionally keep me one step behind the objective. Leaving me to wonder what might have happened if I had gotten my hands on the snuffbox.

Straightening, I went to the sink and washed my hands. Twice. This party was definitely over. Time to find Nico and get both of us out of there.

Black ties and dazzling dresses swirled around the ballroom to kaleidoscopic effect. Still touched by shock, I marveled a moment at what crystal chandeliers did for precious gems and designer signatures. The international cast comprising the guest list had once made this job interesting, but now they just hindered my progress. I prayed Nico hadn't slid off with one of the real hired help for an assignation — his modus operandi when his phase of the work was completed. I couldn't face another systematic exploration of the Italianate estate's gold leaf, fine tapestries and Carrera marble.

I took a long cleansing breath, reminded my nerves to stay in check, and spotted Nico's dark curly head. Sans tray, he sported a tuxedo jacket obviously cached for ulterior purposes and stood chatting up an Yves Saint Laurent model known to the rags as a poseur. Nico didn't care. He had other uses in mind for her physical talents.

"The lights are very bright in here," I remarked, joining the couple.

Nico's eyes narrowed at what my words signaled. "Now?"

"Yes, they hurt my eyes."

Miss Poseur giggled. "Essayez de lunettes de soleil."

Sunglasses in a ballroom. She was a bright one. Nico gave a resigned shrug and moved away.

A circulating waiter offered champagne. I grabbed a flute to better blend into the relaxed crowd.

My arm jerked, hit from behind, and I watched, helpless, as the narrow glass arced in mid-air, then shattered on the marble floor. Icy shards narrowly missed the exposed heel of a delicately shod duchess. A waiter dashed toward us to pick up the sharp pieces. I could not believe this evening.

"I'm so sorry ..." I started to tell the duchess. But my words dropped off as whoever had bumped my arm suddenly had a hand at my waist. I froze, the hair on the back of my neck rising as I turned to face him. Mr. Rhett Wannabe. Again.

The duchess gave me a cool smile. Her dismissive gaze skipped over my shoulder and softened, her features donning a flirtatious mask at the man behind me. He leaned in and murmured apologies into her ear, causing her to giggle like a schoolgirl.

I didn't know which made me madder, his inescapable grip or the way this "Southern gentleman" both restrained and ignored me.

"Do you mind?" I spoke to Teal Eyes between clenched teeth. Creating a scene was out of the question. This job demanded a low-key persona.

But he still ignored me, continuing to converse in perfectly accented Parisian French.

With a gay laugh, the duchess raised a sparkling hand to pat his cheek and turned away, never acknowledging I was even in the ballroom. My inner child felt extremely slighted.

Before I could twist free, his other hand vised on my right arm and steered me toward the two-story glass doors that led to an elegant stone balcony.

"Let's go out on the terrace." Teal Eyes lifted a jet eyebrow in a Clark Gable gesture. "The lights against the dark sea should be lovely. Don't you think?"

"Does it really matter what I think?"

"Glad you agree."

Nico was a step behind us. I gave him a slight shake of my head. While my Southern Charmer was clearly not what he seemed, if I ran now, too many questions would remain unanswered. Who was he? Who did he work for? Had he killed my contact? I knew I needed to get out of there before the dead man in the lavatory was found, but I didn't know how worried I should be about Mr. Teal Eyes. And this might be my best chance to get a little background on the man. It was becoming clear he was on someone's payroll. No one in my business made himself this obvious without a reason.

Nico stood back while I obediently followed Southern Charm's lead. Strains of Isham Jones's and Gus Kahn's "It Had to Be You," my late grandfather's favorite song, wafted overhead, continuing a pattern of music for the evening as varied as the guest list. Only minutes before, the crowd had been doing its best Mick Jagger impersonations to a pounding interpretation of "Honky Tonk Woman."

Any other time I would have been enjoying the cosmopolitan crowd gathered to raise money for the latest Italian restoration effort. International wheeler-dealers, like my late grandfather, appreciated the historic value of the old artists. Contributing a portion of the night's "winnings" was a small price to pay for the honor of seeing family names on appropriate plaques.

Of course, the loss of said family fortune by a father who bet on anything that moved meant I had to work for a living. Something that raised eyebrows in "our crowd." Hence, getting my name on the guest list meant more than just wrangling an invitation.

The terrace was void of other patrons as we approached. Better for the inquisition I had in mind, but also easier to end up like my unfortunate contact. Not for the first time that night, I cursed the fact that my Giorgio couture was not designed to conceal a .38.

"Is this dogged persistence the line you usually take? The only way you can get a lady to yourself?" I opened.

"A lady would have been much more diplomatic when she rejected my advances." He took me near the edge of the terrace, and as far as possible from any eavesdropping guests. Nothing like great wealth to bring out the nosiness in people.

"So you recognized the rejections for what they were, but kept advancing," I responded.

"All I did was strike up a conversation."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames. Copyright © 2015 Ritter Ames. Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Counterfeit Conspiracies 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was a new author for me and I really liked them a lot. There was a lot of suspense and action. I want to call it a cozy James Bond mystery. There was some shooting but not a lot. The main character hardly ever had one. There were a lot of car chases though and a lot of repelling up and down mountains. Not only is she chasing the bad guys, but her boss is always on her case about how much money she's putting on her credit cards. As if she has time to worry about that. It was fast paced, definitely kept me entertained and I enjoyed it. I look forward to more by this author. Aww, the next one on my TBR list is by this author. YAY!! I'm seriously looking forward to reading more about Laurel Beacham. Thanks Henery Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
MorghanVaughn More than 1 year ago
This book was a non-stop thrill ride through the dark and dangerous world of art thieves! Our heroine, Laurel Beacham, is a sort of Robin Hood in the art world. She steals paintings and artifacts from people who have come by them in a nefarious way, and returns them to their rightful owner or exhibit, etc. The book opens and you are immediately thrust into action of the story as we follow Laurel over the course of a couple of jobs she is trying to pull off. Something goes amiss and, instead of jetting off to Lake Tahoe on vacation, Laurel has to make an emergency trip to find a sword that may or may not have belonged to King Arthur himself. Along the way we meet Jack Hawkes, a dashing stranger who always is a step behind, or ahead of Laurel. He seems to know a lot of the information that Laurel needs, but she really doesn't know if she can trust him. This book was crazy good. The action never stops and it reads very similar to a James Bond film...except our main character is a female with a penchant for Prada. The setting of the book goes from Italy to London to France and you are on the edge of your seat the whole time. A nail biter of a mystery, I look forward to reading the next in the series. I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
ABrantley More than 1 year ago
The first thing I noticed about this book was the incredible attention to detail. The author creates a world that you truly can get lost in. The book is also a fast-paced, fun read. I'm looking forward to reading book two.
MarienicollBetaIN More than 1 year ago
 Counterfeit Conspiracies, has so much fun and adventure, you won’t be able to sit still. Laurel Beacham, has Jack Hawkes, for a surprise partner, that you didn’t see coming.  Laurel, takes you on a wonderful journey into art that she wants to love and protect from the evil. Laurel is a character who I believe could give Batman a run for his money.  This is a fast paced book, to save the day,Laurel takes you with her every step of the way on subways, planes, fast cars, and motorcycles all while being in danger.  This book is truly a keeper, jump in a go for a ride!!!
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
What a Delightful Ride There are a lot of books out there I haven’t read and series I haven’t started. It has absolutely nothing to do with lack of interest on my part; it’s nothing but lack of time. That’s why I am just now getting to Counterfeit Conspiracies. Believe me, I wish I’d read this book sooner. This book introduces us to Laurel Beacham, an art recovery expert who works for the Beacham Institute, founded by her grandfather. Her job involves traveling all over the globe and retrieving pieces of art that have been stolen or lost to humanity. Right now, after a job goes sideways in Italy, Laurel is looking forward to a week’s vacation in California. But on her layover in London, she gets a call from her boss, Max, that puts her vacation plans on hold. Someone has discovered a sword that might tie into the King Arthur legend and be a step toward proving he was real. Laurel needs to delay her vacation for just two days to track it down and bring it in. However, when she stops by to get some additional information from Simon, a co-worker and former boyfriend, she finds someone she’s never seen before searching his office. Simon isn’t answering his phone. And Laurel is being followed by a man who dogged her on the job in Italy. Who can Laurel trust? Where is Simon? Can Laurel stay safe long enough to figure out what is going on? Obviously, this is a caper rather than a traditional cozy. I didn’t realize that when I picked the book up, but it is very easy to figure that out early on, and I don’t mind. The change of pace was wonderful, and I got quickly drawn into the story. The plot moves quickly, with several fun action scenes and plenty of twists and turns along the way. I never wanted to put this book down. Because of the nature of the plot, we only get to know Laurel and one other character super well. The rest of the cast doesn’t get enough page time to be fully fleshed out, but since they don’t get that much page time, it’s really not that big a deal. We certainly have Laurel’s impression of these characters, and that’s all we really need. Even some of the characters who do have more page time remain mysteries on purpose because they are still mysteries to Laurel. My only real complaint about the book (which is very minor) is the ending, which felt rushed. A few of the plot points brought up earlier in the book are wrapped up in a final scene, meanwhile plenty of threads are left open. Honestly, I was expecting the opened threads as I was reading. This book has more of a feel of a TV show pilot than a traditional novel that would be wrapped up in these pages. Just know that going in and you’ll be fine. I certainly don’t mind since I enjoyed this book so much and am looking forward to finding out what happens next to Laurel. With three more books (as of right now) to go in this series, I know I’ve got more great reads in front of me. If you’ve missed Counterfeit Conspiracies, fix that today.
MikiHope More than 1 year ago
Can Laurel Beacham trust this man who keeps popping up everywhere? That is the question for this very strong and independent female who plays a kind of Robin Hood. She retrieves stolen artwork and gets it back to the original owners or the museums-where ever it belongs. She is used to working alone and is not very trusting of men in general--Then her ex-lover goes missing. Now she has to retrieve an art artifact and find her ex--and that guy keeps popping up and saving her from people who are trying to kill her!! This book has lots of twists and turns, a few laughs in-between, some pretty tense moments and is definitely worth the read!
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite We first meet Laurel Beacham in the dead of night, engaged in recovering an Old Master from a private gallery housed in a castle turret. Surprised by the owner of the house, she quickly cuts the painting from its frame and escapes by attaching a suction cup to the wall and launching herself through a conveniently placed window. So starts Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames, a high octane thriller which finds our heroine next in an Italian palazzo, there to recover another valuable antique. It is during this operation that she first meets the man she describes as a ‘Rhett Butler wannabe in Armani,’ who will feature persistently in the tale, much to Ms Beacham’s annoyance. The action quickly moves from Italy to London where, over a period of two days, she is involved in a breathless chase through the city, during which she barely escapes an attempt to kidnap her. She is shot at in the East End, demonstrates her ability to handle a powerful motorcycle, and finally departs the city via Le Shuttle to Paris, where there is another frantic chase into the French countryside and the final exciting denouement. Laurel Beacham works for the New York based Beacham Foundation, an organisation set up by her grandfather to recover stolen or misappropriated works of art and return them to their rightful owners. Our heroine was born into money which, unfortunately, was quickly squandered away during her childhood, leaving her no option but to work for a living. She is fortunate, however, in that she loves her work, is intelligent, fit, and attractive, so spends no time at all bemoaning her lot. She does not hesitate to use her considerable feminine assets if it suits her purpose, but does not easily submit to male attentions. I was greatly amused by one scene where she headbutts unconscious her Rhett Butler wannabe, who is becoming a bit of a nuisance - I think that gives you some flavour of the woman. Ritter Ames has created a feisty character and launched her into the glamorous world of fine art, where big money attracts the mobsters and fakers, where crooks and collectors will sometimes be prepared to kill for the next big prize. Counterfeit Conspiracies is the first book in the Bodies of Art Mystery Series, which I am sure will enjoy great success.
Debb23 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, it wasn't what I was expecting. It is non stop action, with so many twists that you don't know who to trust, I think I had everyone as the suspect halfway through. I did start piecing it together but got part of it wrong. The characters are strong and likable. Laurel is a strong woman and no one is going to tell her what to do, she's smart and doesn't panic in a situation. Jack is an enigma, you want to like but unsure of who he is. They are both racing for artifacts for different reasons and I have to say the two of them together is a force to be reckoned with. They gave me a few moments of laughing out loud which I always love in a book. Definitely moving on with this series. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Judy-Ree More than 1 year ago
Cozy Mysteries are one of my favorite genres. Maybe it's the years spent watching Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Matlock and Dr. Quincy, MD with my grandparents, but they remain one of my favorite genres. And I am always on the look out for my next great cozy mystery to read. The cover looked interesting, and I do enjoy reading cozies about art. I hadn't read anything by this author before, but Henery Press hasn't let me down yet, so I decided to give this book a try. I was intrigued from the first that I picked it up. It read so quickly, that I was done almost before I was ready for it. The style reminded be very much of those 1960's, you know the ones where the women and men all dressed in posh, stylish outfits, yet still managed to kick some butt. Except this was updated for present day. I guess what I am trying to say, was that it just felt classy, yet current. I really quite enjoyed it and gave it 4 solid stars. Netgalley and Henery Press provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames is the first book in A Bodies of Art Mystery series. Laurel Beacham is an art recovery expert (she reclaims masterpieces for their owners). Laurel grew up in a life of privilege but her father managed to spend (aka gamble) away the family fortune (and then died while skiing). Laurel goes to meet up with Simon Babbage (ex-lover) for her new assignment and discovers he is missing. Laurel must rescue Simon and a King Arthur’s sword and scabbard from a ruthless criminal. While tracking down Simon, Laurel notices someone following her. Who is he and why is he following Laurel? Friend or foe? Read Counterfeit Conspiracies to find out if Laurel can find Simon and the priceless icon. I found Counterfeit Conspiracies to be very forced (contrived, exaggerated). I thought this was a mystery, but more attention was paid to Laurel’s Prada purse (which was mentioned constantly) than the mystery (which was child’s play to solve). The novel was mostly about running, being chased, and gun fire (and let us not forget the Prada purse). The novel was fast paced (for the most part), but everything just felt artificial (forced). For a first book many things are not explained (and I have to admit that after a while I really did not care). I give Counterfeit Conspiracies 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay). This book was just not for me. I received a complimentary copy of Counterfeit Conspiracies from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rockport_rocker More than 1 year ago
Counterfeit Conspiracies is intriguing, well plotted book with humor and and edge; I loved it. The adventure is fast paced and sophisticated as the plotting. The most important element for any genre is character development and Ms Ames has an outstanding touch in sharing her characters. I could see this series developed into a movie staring the suave actors of the past but it is totally contemporary. I look forward to long readership with Ritter Ames!
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: Counterfeit Conspiracy - Bodies of Art Mystery Book 2 Author: Ritter Ames Published: 2-2-2016 Publish: Henery Press Pages: 194 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense Sub Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths ISBN: 9781943390458 ASIN: B017MWHM18 Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley . Laurel Beacham has grown up with money, known the connections it can give you, but she has also known the scorn from the loss of status. Laurel is known as a very sought after art restorer. Righting the wrongs from stolen art to repairing damaged art. Laurel uses the Beacham Foundation and her connections to trace provinces and histories of Art pieces. When her source for an antique pill box shows up dead Laurel is out of there is a heartbeat. Time to find out who killed him and what happened to the box later. This is such a fast moving story. Laurel and her friends are strong characters with well defined personalities. Ritter Ames gives is many twist and turns to keep you involved with being bored. With extensive research Ritter Ames takes us to foreign locales as well as those domestic locations. Her words bring them alive so that you feel you are emersed in whatever location Laurel manages to land in.
weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
Great Book! This is a great book; this is the first book in the Bodies of Art series by Ritter Ames. Laurel Beacham was born with a silver spoon in her mouth but that all changed when her father gambled and womanized his way through the family fortune before skiing off an Alp. She has worked hard to gain her reputation as the world’s leading art recovery expert. Her latest assignment is to locate a priceless art icon and rescue a co-worker (ex-lover) from a master criminal. If you are looking for a great mystery then you need to read this book. I can’t wait to read more books in this fun series. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Jarina More than 1 year ago
Counterfeit Conspiracies is the first book in Ritter Ames' Bodies of Art Mystery Series. The story begins with Laurel Beacham, the Beacham Foundation's premier art recovery expert, in Italy to pick up an objet d'art to be returned to its rightful owner. But things are going terribly wrong--she is sent a text with the wrong directions to the black tie event, her contact is not to be found at the meet and greet, and there is a a very good looking man paying far much attention to Laurel. When Laurel finds her contact dead and escapes the clutches of her admirer, she makes the report, heads for London and then is scheduled to fly to a well deserved vacation at Lake Tahoe. As she approaches her flight to the states, she receives a call from her boss, Max, that a very rare antiquity has been found and she is to pick it up along with its documentation before she comes home. Laurel is to contact the London office head, and her former lover, Simon Babbage, to work on the collection. They set up to meet, but when Laurel arrives at Simon's office, he is not there but a strange woman is and is ransacking it. A quick escape with Simon's laptop and a flash drive opens up a race to locate the missing Simon as well as finding the artifact. And the kicker is that the mysterious party attendee has inserted himself into her quest and is, just perhaps, a member of MI6. A fast paced read that moves from the streets of London to the French countryside. Laurel is being chased and shot at as she makes her way to the final twist that will leave you surprised, even stunned. A real page turner that will leave you wanting more. I recommend this novel.
ArizonaJo More than 1 year ago
Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames is the first in her Bodies of Art series and was a very enjoyable read for me. In fact, I can honestly say that I enjoyed everything about this book. Laurel Beacham is a smart, independent and resourceful art recovery expert. She has "talents" that would put any spy or thief to shame. Although she was born into luxury, she soon lost all of that thanks to her father who threw it all away on drinking and gambling. She works for the Beacham Foundation because she loves art and feels the need for it to be returned to it's rightful owners. This assignment has not gone according to plan since her boss called off her vacation and sent her on this disastrous mission. Jack Hawke is an enigma to her (and to me, as well). He seems to pop up where ever she is and often helps her to get out of tough spots as this assignment goes terribly wrong when she finds a dead body. Jack is handsome and has too much information on her for Laurel to feel comfortable. He also doesn't seem to like sharing any information about himself. Who is he? Who does he work for? How does he get his information about her and her assignment? This was a fast paced plot with some exciting adventure that includes murder, guns blazing, climbing a mountain and car chases. The characters are beginning their development and I cannot wait to know more about Laurel and Jack. I also loved Nico who assists Laurel in her recovery cases. He is definitely a tech genius that provides tools for Laurel as well as transportation. I was given an ARC from Henery Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Henery Press. I enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read the next one in this series.
gdsnv More than 1 year ago
I was given a copy of Counterfeit Conspiracies by Ritter Ames in exchange for an honest review. The book was fast-paced and raced around Europe which is always an exciting setting idea for me. I get to travel without the hassle! Laurel Beacham is working as a pseudo-undercover art recovery expert as her family circumstances have left her without the moneyed background she had as a young woman. She runs into a man named Jack Hawkes, at least that’s what he says his name is, who is always where she is at the exact moment she doesn’t want to be seen. There are quite a few funny exchanges between them that are quick and biting and refreshing. And Laurel really knows how to use a stiletto as a deterrent to detainment! My favorite character was Nico – sort of a “Q” to Laurel’s undercover work. Let’s say that I wish he was along whenever I was going shopping. My one disappointment was that I felt I was always one page short of knowing who everyone was or where they were going. I’m hoping that it works itself out in the next books in the series. Overall, I enjoyed but just wished for more clarity in the character backgrounds.
Book-a-holicSH More than 1 year ago
By the time I finished this book, I was so disappointed, but only because it was over!!! This book is fast paced, well written and well edited. I can’t wait for the next in this series!!! Laurel is witty, intelligent and resourceful. I received a mini education in art and antiquities all wrapped up in an excellent adventure in exotic locales. Reading this book was almost like a mini vacation just from the locations visited, but the adventure doesn’t end there. Laurel is a strong female lead and her interactions with Jack really keep things interesting! Hang on for the ride, it’s just begun! Bring us more Laurel & Jack! By the time I finished this book, I was so disappointed, but only because it was over!!!
Froggiejc More than 1 year ago
I don't like to rehash the author's story so it is sufficient to say that I liked this story so much I didn't put it down until it was finished and can't wait for another book by Ritter Ames. This is the highest praise I can give except--if you don't read it you will miss a great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book from an interview on a book blog, and am I ever glad (most of the best books I find via this resource). I was captivated by the internatuonal flavoe of the book. I loved the character of Laurel Beacham. The male character of Jack Hawley needs some nore fleshing out. Add art, intrigue and France and I'm hooked and salivating for the next one!