A Faux Van Gogh
When North Carolina antique dealer Abigail Timberlake makes a bid of $150.99 on a truly awful copy of Van Gogh's The Starry Night, she's just trying to win Mama's approval by supporting the church auction. Hopefully, she'll make her money back on the beautiful gold antique frame. Little does she expect she's bought herself a fortune...and a lot of trouble.
A masterpiece to kill for
When her ex-boyfriend shows up and offers ten bucks for the ugly Starry Night, Abby pops the frame and is stunned to discover hidden behind the faux Van Gogh canvas a multi-million dollar lost art treasure. Suddenly she's a popular lady in her old hometown, and her first visit is from Gilbert Sweeney, her schoolyard sweetheart (according to him), who claims the family's painting was donated by mistake. But social calls quickly turn from nice to nasty as it's revealed that the mysterious masterpiece conceals a dark and deadly past and some modern-day misconduct that threatens to rock the Rock Hill social structure to its core. Someone apparently thinks the art is worth killing for, and Abby knows she better get to the bottom of the secret scandal and multiple murders before she ends up buried six feet under a starry night.
About the Author
Tamar Myers is the author of the Belgian Congo series and the Den of Antiquity series as well as the Pennsylvania-Dutch mysteries. Born and raised in the Congo, she lives in North Carolina.
Read an Excerpt
Estate of Mind
I've been in sorrow's kitchen and licked out every pot. But I haven't suffered half as much as Mama, to hear her tell it. So out of guilt I went along with her to the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I go to church regularly, mind you, but this was to the annual white elephant sale and potluck supper, and it was a Wednesday night .
"Junk," I whispered. "It's just junk."
"Shh, Abby. Someone will hear you."
"So what, Mama? Feel this sweater. It's 100 percent acrylic. You could grate carrots with it."
"It's a very pretty pink."
"Speaking of pink, can you believe this pink flamingo night-light?"
"Lower your voice, dear. You Know Who donated that."
"You Know Who?"
I glanced around the parish hall, looking for a dowdy little woman with a hat and an obviously empty handbag. There were no hats to be seen.
"I don't think she can hear all the way from England."
"Priscilla Hunt is not in England, dear. She's right over there."
"Oh, that queen."
Priscilla Hunt is the uncrowned queen of Rock Hill. At least in her eyes. Not only is she the wealthiest woman in town, but she descends from one of the city's earliest settlers. Frankly, I have always been baffled by the amount of power Priscilla is able to wield, especially considering the fact that nobody likes her. She was standing alone, as usual, glaring at her archrival, Hortense Simms.
Hortense doesn't have a lineage worthy of a horse thief, but she is the Episcopal Church of Our Savior's resident celebrity and the second-wealthiest woman in the parish. She is also a confirmedspinster with a reputation for holding her nose so high, it's a wonder she doesn't require an oxygen mask. Confidentially, Hortense doesn't deserve to be famous just because she published a book on antique undergarments, even if the ones she wrote about were worn by famous people. Of Corsets and Crowns never would have made the New York Times best-seller list if Oprah hadn't mentioned it in passing. A woman who describes underwear for a living has no cause to put on airs, if you ask me.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the high and mighty Hortense chipped in with these cracked wooden salad bowls."
I gave those," Mama said.
"Mama, you didn't!"
I asked you if you wanted them, remember?"
I shook my head.
"Well, I did. Last Thanksgiving. And you said, ,no.' So don't blame me if somebody else snaps them up for a song. Abby, I would have let you have them for fifty cents apiece."
"I don't want the salad bowls." I waved my arms at the clutter spread across eight folding tables that flanked the room. "Mama, we're Episcopalians. Can't we do better than this?"
"What did you donate, dear? This auction is to benefit the youth group, you know. They're badly in need of a new van."
I hung my head in shame. As the owner of the Den of Antiquity, one of the Charlotte area's finest stores, I had plenty to donate to a church fund-raiser.
Mama gasped and clutched her single strand of pearls. "You didn't donate anything, did you?"
"I was going to, Mama, but I've been busy. It sort of slipped my mind."
"Bet that new boyfriend of yours hasn't slipped your mind, has he?"
I must have looked guilty.
"I knew it. Well, Abigail Louise Timberlake, I'm ashamed of you."
"Oh, Mama, you just don't like him because he's short."
"You said it, dear, not me."
"But, Mama, he's three inches taller than I!"
"You're four-foot-nine, dear. And besides, we don't know who his people are."
"Mama, you've met them, for crying out loud. You had lunch at his aunt's down in Georgetown."
Mama sniffed. "Appearances can be deceiving, dear. You aren't really serious about this man, are you?"
Mama has her heart set on my marrying Greg Washburn, a handsome Charlotte police investigator. Greg is tall by anyone's standards, and drop-dead gorgeous. Buster, on the other hand, has a face only a mama can love-his mama, not mine--and is a coroner. But Buster is someone I can count on, while Greg is as faithful as a buck rabbit-just like my exhusband. I had a trump card that I knew would sway Mama over to Buster's side, but I wasn't ready to play it.
"Maybe we should head over to the food tables," I said, by way of diversion. "Father Foss is about to say grace."
"All right, dear, but I'm not letting you off the hook for a prayer. We'll talk later. Can you make it for supper Saturday night? Or do you and that little man have plans?"
"Saturday will be fine," I said and, grabbing her arm, steered her toward the food tables.
We barely made it in time. As soon as the word "Amen" passed the good father's lips, the crowd reenacted the Oklahoma land rush. Not that I can blame them. Episcopalians rank among the world's
cooks, after all. Potluck at the Church of Our Savior can be a treat.
But I was feeling a little off my feed that night. Lunch, earlier that day at Bubba's China Gourmet up in Charlotte, was more than just a memory. Bubba's moo goo gai grits and Beijing barbecue were still in my stomach, which in turn felt like it was somewhere...Estate of Mind. Copyright © by Tamar Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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