Petite, indomitable North Carolinian Abigail Timberlake rose gloriously up from the ashes of divorceparlaying her savvy about exquisite old things into a thriving antiques enterprise: the Den of Antiquity. Now she's a force to be reckoned with in Charlotte's close-knit world of mavens, eccentrics and cuttthroat dealers. But a superb, gilt-edged 18th-century French armoire she purchased for a song at estate auction has just arrived along with something she didn't pay for: a dead body.
Suddenly her shop is a crime sceneand closed to the public during the busiest shopping season of the yearso Abigail is determined to speed the lumbering police investigation along. But amateur sleuthing is leading the feisty antiques expert into a murderous mess of dysfunctional family secrets. And the next cadaver found stuffed into fine old furniture could wind up being Abigail's own.
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
Gilt By Association
The invoice from the estate auction read as follows:
one Louis XV armoire one Louis XV desk one small Louis XV table one carved and gilded mirror
It said nothing about a body. I read the invoice one more time just to be sure. No body.
I sat down rather heavily on a sturdy Victorian side chair. Finding a corpse in a closet is not a daily occurrence at the Den of Antiquity. One should excuse me then for stopping to catch my breath before I called the Charlotte police. I'm sure you will understand as well when I tell you that it took me several minutes to catch that breath.
My name is Abigail Timberlake, and the Den of Antiquity is all that I have. Three years ago I was a happily married woman, mother of two almost grown children, library volunteer, and president of the Episcopal Church Women. I even had a dog, Scruffles, and a cat, Dmitri. But that was then, and this is now, as my children used to say.
Buford Timberlake changed all that. As ex-husbands go, Buford is the sludge at the bottom of the pond. Timberlake the Timber Snake, I call him. Of course some of the credit should go to the blond puffball who used to be his secretary and now is his wife. Tweetie Byrd--her real name, I kid you not--insinuated herself into my husband's lap, and then his life, with the rapidity of a striking snake, so maybe she's part reptile, too. At any rate, Tweetie is now mistress of the manor, and stepmother to my son, Charlie. Thank God, my daughter, Susan, had already flown the nest when The Byrd took over.
That Buford had been awarded custody of everything nearand dear to me (with the exception of my shadow) has nothing to do with my competence or moral track record. It is simply because Buford is a lawyer. A damn good lawyer. Maybe the best. Buford is capable of convicting Pollyanna of a bad attitude, and once he decided to go for Tweetie, who was twenty, and cast me aside, it was all over except for the pain.
I am lucky to have escaped with my antique shop. I can only guess that Tweetie presumed the Den of Antiquity was a geriatric sex club, and being so consumed with Buford, hadn't enough energy left over to take that on as well. I would like to think that the shop would have remained mine no matter what, since I started it from scratch. Of course I started my children from scratch as well, but that didn't stop Tweetie Byrd from taking over my nest and stealing my remaining fledgling.
None of that has anything to do with the price of antique silk in China, or what I'm about to tell you. I just wanted you to know that I didn't have it "made in the shade"--to quote The Byrd--and I still don't. The fact that my dearly departed Aunt Eulonia (herself a murder victim) left me a considerable estate last year, and I finally have some financial stability, is none of Tweetie's business. The point I'm trying to make is that my shop has come to fill a tremendous void in my life. Outside of my loved ones, it is my life.
So I hope you can understand how it was that finding a corpse in a closet was threatening, to say the least. I realize now how callous this must sound to you. How shocked you probably are that I didn't immediately respond to the corpse as a person. But I was in shock myself, you see. After all the stress I'd been under, something had simply shorted out in my brain. Even now I cringe when I say this, but I was far more concerned about what the body would do to my business than about the body itself. I wish now that I had felt differently.
I also wish that I had called 911. Unfortunately, someone else beat me to the punch.
"Well, well, what have we here?"
I jumped several inches off the chair. There are eight sleigh bells attached to my front door, but I was so distraught I had not heard anyone enter. In my frame of mind, it could well have been the corpse conversing. I whirled and faced the speaker, a middle-aged police officer in a blue uniform.
"He isn't on my invoice," I said stupidly.
"Ma'am?" Charlotte police are invariably polite.
"He wasn't part of the lot. I only bid on the desk, the table, the mirror, and that!" I pointed to the armoire, in which the body sat, slumped in a heap.
"I don't know his name!" I wailed.
"No ma'am, your name.,,
"I have a right to remain silent, and refuse to answer questions," I began. "I have a right to call an attorney. If I--"
"I'm not arresting you, ma'am," said the man in blue. "I just want to ask you a few questions. We can do that here, or down at the station. Take your pick."
That was like asking me to choose between liver and boiled turnips. Following Aunt Eulonia's murder, I spent more than my fair share of time hanging around the police station. For the record, allow me to stress that all of my hanging around was in front of the bars, not behind them.Gilt By Association. Copyright © by Tamar Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The mansions, restaurants, coffee or tea breaks, and munching while clueing all served to keep me reading onward, happy as a clam. What I enjoyed most about this novel was the various routinely-natural and effortlessly-entertaining ways Abby worries out her mystery and interviews suspects, often over a meal in a luxury setting or at least one with rich aromatic ambiance of one intensity or another. Hey. I¿m a culinary cozy addict. Here are a couple of my favorite Abby clue-strewing scenes: Bubble bath contemplations with her cat batting bubbles ... Ex husbands¿ current wife giving Abby a makeover as the current ¿homemaker¿ moans over now being the other woman, while Abby soothes the angst of her exhusband¿s wife with whom he cheated on Abby ... Yeah. And the scene works with both irony and warmth! Of course Abby¿s excursions & exchanges with the gay Rob & Bob are delightfully warm & funny, and the gutsy gourmet meals Bob concocts which Rob & Abby beg to avoid are interestingly mouth watering ... from a distance. Really enjoyed the way Abby dealt with her approach/avoidance conflict (romancing ever-after Vs dragging feet) as her relationship with trained police investigator Greg Washburn grows more intimate and skidds toward commitment. This is a work of sheer and simple entertainment with a backwash of stereotypes squashed and genuine relating relished. Lots of hilarious mix & mismatch is stirred effervescently into the kettles of cuisine, means of marriage, ways of mystery, and action-packed menageries. Take it. You won¿t leave it for long.
I like cozy mysteries but I thought this author's character came off as very hare brained and it just did not capture my interest.