"Laurel and Jack are back! Once again I have to hold on to my hat while we zip around Europe and land in lovely Florence where author Ritter Ames lures me in with her delightful vignette of Italian life seen through the eyes of an art expert. The scenes call out to all the senses, and who am I to say no? Ciao." - Maria Grazia Swan, Author of the Lella York Mysteries
"What Ritter Ames does so admirably well is parcel out just enough information-just enough of back story or relationship history-to keep a reader hooked. She sets a maddeningly expert pace and keeps you on the edge of your seat scene after scene, all the time dropping you deeper and deeper into the plot. In a word, she's masterful." -Girl with Book Lungs
"Ames, with her great writing and brilliant story, has created a masterpiece of her own in Marked Masters. She leaves her readers doing their own research between the pages. Like Laurel, Ritter keeps the story with its rightful owner-the reader." - Crimespree Magazine
"Boasting a great cast of characters, good conversations and the global background, this was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the third book in this exciting series." - Dru's Book Musing
"Well-plotted and will keep you guessing until the very end...The action is nonstop and you will find that you can't put this book down. Mystery readers will enjoy the chase and be pleased with the outcome. I can't wait to read the next in the delightful series. If you like you mystery filled with hunky spies, then you should be reading Marked Masters." - Cheryl Green, MyShelf Reviews
Laurel Beacham made working solo a personal success story and is known for her nerve, instincts, and ability to do whatever necessary to return each priceless masterpiece safely intact. As the world's leading art recovery expert, she's thwarted more heists than the average law enforcement professional. Museums applaud her skills. Thieves admire the cunning way she operates.
Her last job landed her the head position over the London branch of Beacham Foundation, but bringing one case to a close only opened a bigger one. More importantly, the new case inextricably ties her to Jack Hawkes, a man smart enough to be her equal but who keeps her trust meter firmly in the red zone. Trying to stop a rumored heist of the century, the pair leap headlong into a plot that gets more dangerous and illusive by the minute. The clock counts down as the bodies and forgeries stack up.
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...
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 dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Bodies of Art Mystery
By Ritter Ames
Henery PressCopyright © 2015 Ritter Ames
All rights reserved.
Two black and whites screamed to the curb, paralleling each other and blocking off any possibility of retreat. Brakes screeched. Sirens blared. My blood pressure ratcheted up a notch. The flashing lights alone set my heart pounding so hard I could swear the beats showed through my black Lycra.
One step and I bled back into the shadows of the house's side wall.
A simple pickup on a limited time frame. That's what the job had been. My objective was a medium-sized nude, which had reclined over the headboard of a blackmailer's bed for decades. A painting and headboard currently residing inside the townhouse that was the focal point of this Orlando PD team.
"He's been extorting money from my mother since before I was born," Kat Gleeson had explained earlier in the afternoon. "The blackmailer picked up the portrait at a sale after the artist died, playing a hunch it would be worth bigger bucks later. Mother received the first demand as soon as my father started in political life. Laurel, you have to help us."
A longtime friend from my Cornell years, and daughter to Senator Gleeson, R-FL, Kat called me earlier in the day, frantic to meet after hearing I was in the city. When I'd said my Miami flight was first thing in the morning, she'd turned from frantic to panicked, and I'd promised to be at her favorite cocktail bar in ten minutes time.
Now, twelve hours later, this new dilemma forced me to contemplate an alternate route inside the house for the nude painted when Kat's mother was an ingénue and the artist undiscovered. In his later years, before his final drug overdose, the once up-and-coming artist became best known for his erotic subjects and a penchant for the rock-and-roll lifestyle of the 1970s. A single moment captured in brushstrokes kept Kat's mother chronically worried and perpetually broke all these years later.
As political buzz hummed about Senator Gleeson's prospective run for the presidency, the hush-money stakes had risen sharply. The next installment hit a price Mrs. Gleeson couldn't deliver without her husband's knowledge and cooperation.
In the past few years I'd gained the reputation as the best person to call when a legitimate piece of art went missing. I'd climbed the ranks of the Beacham Foundation, from internship at the New York office during college, to field work and troubleshooting the last five-plus years since graduation, rising in the eyes of the art world as my skills sharpened and the wins mounted on my record. However, people who knew me well — or like Kat, had known me in my wilder college days — were also aware of my "special" talents, and that I was always ready to jump into a non-work venue when conventional methods fell short or were too complicated for implementation. I dubbed these pro bono efforts my "reclamation projects." Given my more visible status since a promotion a few weeks ago to head of the London office of Beacham Ltd., I knew such forays may have to be reduced in the future, but there was no way I could turn my back when someone like Kat appealed to me for help.
My prep time on this particular reclamation was understandably limited, but the facts that came back were solid — the owner was a Luddite who didn't know a silent alarm from a silent movie. An absolute anachronism today, but the attribute served him well as a blackmailer since the practice left little risk of his digital fingerprint getting lifted anywhere.
What had alerted the cops?
The head-to-toe unrelieved black I wore dovetailed into the shadows and afforded me a bit of invisibility. I contemplated the peripheral shrubbery but waited to see the officers' game plan. A peek at my watch, hidden by the hood of my sleeve, showed less than a half hour to either accomplish what I came to do or cut and run.
Car doors slammed and voices rose as authoritative tones ordered a blue scramble to search for whatever tipped them off to the location.
Another scan of the back wall showed the basement window I'd initially dismissed as too small for a final escape. But it could get me into the house as long as I sucked in my gut and visualized being very, very small. I also had to maneuver without being seen or heard across the white ribbon obligatory to many Sunshine State homes; the oyster-shell path that ringed the grounds around the house walls like fluorescence in the moon glow.
They drew their guns and headed for the porch. I made my move, using long-latent childhood gymnastic muscles to clear the wide, crushed path and stick a quiet landing on the tiny strip of grass along the foundation.
I pulled the penlight stashed in my bra and scoped out the basement in about 2.6 seconds. Any longer carried too much risk, but the quickly lighted view told me I'd be dropping six feet onto bare cement. That was doable.
The extended beam of a Maglite flashed from around the corner as I started feet first down the rabbit hole. When my soles hit concrete, I reached up to softly set the window back into a closed position. Then I crouched into a dark ball and held my breath. Via the locked window, I heard the cop's feet pass by, then stop. He flashed his light through the glass, across the cellar, floor to ceiling. I hugged the wall tighter and hoped he wouldn't look straight down.
"Nah," I heard him say into his radio. "There's a tiny window back here, but it's locked, and I can't imagine anyone getting through it anyway. Over."
Still, it wasn't time to sigh in relief. The mark was due home from a NASA event soon. No need to look at my watch again to know the minutes were flying. I continued to hold my breath until I heard the oyster shells crunch when the cop resumed his recon.
A cursory scan for infrared, trip wires, or motion detectors came up zero. The house was as technology-free as I'd been told. No doubt I was taking a chance going in before the cops left, but if I'd stayed outside I was pretty much guaranteed to get caught. And a ride in the back of a squad car to explain why I was dressed in black in a dark yard after midnight was not on my agenda for the evening.
The open floor plan in the living space made it relatively easy to navigate without lights. Moonlight streamed through huge windows dressed in nothing but sheers. I kept to the beige and taupe walls and the larger pieces of furniture as much as possible, using the moving shadows of the cops outside to know where and when to scoot to the next spot. The boys in blue only appeared to be doing reconnaissance, leaving me to hope for a rapid departure when they found the house secured. At least I hoped it was completely secure. I hadn't had time to do a whole house perimeter before they showed up.
I crept up the stairs. The landing opened to a full-wall window that overlooked the front yard. Staying back as far as possible, I watched the blue crew huddle again at the curb.
Please, please, please leave. I don't have much time left.
Just as my limbs started to cramp from standing so still, I saw one give the "move 'em out" swing of the arm, and both teams returned to their respective cars. I didn't start breathing again until I saw the revolving lights stop and the headlights turn back down the boulevard.
The master suite was where I expected, and I was probably feeling too cocky as I closed the door behind me and pulled from my pocket the sharp little tool used to extract canvasses from frames. I spun around and approached the bed — and got my next shock of the night. A gorgeous baroque frame hung on the wall over the headboard ... but it was empty.
I froze. There was no backup plan for this. Where else could the portrait be?
A check of the closet and under the bed offered no answers. I started running through rooms, scanning each wall, behind the sofa and chairs. Nada.
In the study I found bookcases filled with volumes and vases, but no portraits. I circled the desk, hoping for a clue. The ultraprecise Omega chronometer on my left wrist gave one quiet beep, warning me to pull up stakes and run before it was too late.
My gaze fell on the partially open middle desk drawer, and about an inch-view of a leather-bound journal. I opened the drawer about a foot. Across the front of the journal, embossed in gold, were the words "My Women."
His little black book? Or his blackmail roster? Either way, taking it might give me ammunition to offer Mrs. Gleeson if the worst happened and the blackmailer came after her again. He'd obviously stashed the portrait someplace else. Maybe Kat spoke to someone besides me, and he'd gotten wind of a rescue attempt?
If I couldn't bring back the painting, perhaps this book could be used as an alternate method to stop the blackmail.
I needed to fly. The book went down the front of my leotard, and the drawer was returned to its partially-open position. I slipped out the side door I'd originally planned to use for entry to the house.
Vaulting the back wall wasn't even a challenge. I was so pumped I probably could have vaulted the whole house without too much difficulty.
I was behind the steering wheel of my car and digging the book out of my clothes, trying to figure out what I was going to tell Kat, when a voice behind me said, "Find anything interesting, love?"
If I could have reached him, Jack Hawkes would have been dead.
"Damn it, Jack. Don't do that." I turned in my seat and instinctively swung backhanded to try to slap the grin from his face. He caught my arm without even trying.
"A trifle nervy, aren't you?"
Jack Hawkes remained a mystery no matter how creatively I tried to corner him on personal details. Maybe some level of UK agent, likely MI-6 by the way he operated, but he treated his background as something on a need-to-know basis. I always had the feeling he didn't want to explain rather than he couldn't, and I'd learned early on to not let my guard down around people who didn't act completely trustworthy. Jack tipped the scale soundly on my distrust meter. He and I were currently teamed up to stop what may be the art heist of the century. Our single crumb of information mentioned a safe-deposit box, which was why we came to Orlando. Our legal team moved heaven and earth for Jack and me to peek inside, but we only found a combination of numbers, a pristine map of the European Union, and a reference to Miami.
When Jack and I parted company earlier, he'd said he had plans for the evening. I had no idea our evening agendas were similar, and hadn't expected to see Jack's face until our Miami flight the following morning. The sight of his broad-shouldered frame filling my backseat was unnerving enough to give my voice an edge. "I'm pissed off is what I am." I waved a hand. "It's ... over. And I failed. What are you doing here?"
"Oh, a little shopping. Senator Gleeson asked me to pick up an old canvas for him."
"What?" I stared as Jack pulled an item from behind my seat back.
There it was, a gorgeous nude infamous because of the later-years reputation of the artist. Kat's mother was young and lovely, and the body of art should never have gained its now notorious reputation. "It's beautiful. A true work of genius." I should have been more upset with him, but I was truly relieved to see the painting safely away from the blackmailer's grasp.
"It absolutely is. Sorry I scooped it out already and you had to leave empty handed."
A second scream of sirens erupted from somewhere several blocks away.
"I'm guessing you went out the side door," Jack said.
"The neighbor to that side apparently has a predilection for night vision goggles and very nicely alerted the police to my exit right before you arrived on the scene."
"Explains why they didn't try to get inside. The neighbor saw you leave."
Jack nodded. "Goes to show we work better together than apart."
"You said you had plans. You didn't say you were after the painting, too."
"And you didn't mention it at all," he reminded.
I ignored his dig and reached between the seats to run a gentle finger along the artist's confident brushstrokes. "How did you know I was going to take this?"
"Then why —"
"The senator's aide was a Rhodes Scholar, and we met when we were at university together."
"So the senator already knows?"
"Has for years. He's been waiting for his wife to bring it up but was afraid of saying anything until she spoke first. Whenever her bank account ran low, he knew she'd had to make another payment, and he would find an excuse to give her more. But he'd recognized the signs lately that things were getting out of hand, and he hired a private detective to learn the man's schedule. Tonight seemed the best opportunity to make a move, especially since we're leaving in a few hours."
I nodded. "That was our thinking too. Kat's and mine. The Gleesons' daughter and I were college friends as well."
I pulled the book from my neckline. "But I didn't leave empty handed. Found this in his study when trying to discover where the missing portrait was. I think it may be more blackmail victims. We were concerned that taking the portrait would point too much toward Mrs. Gleeson, but couldn't find any other means to stop the blackmail. I'm hoping this information defrays the risk of him doing something else to bring light to the situation."
"Like having her arrested for the theft of a painting he legally owns?"
"And used for blackmailing purposes," I replied.
"True, but proving it would bring on the media exposure everyone wants to avoid. Like you, I imagine the blackmailer counts on that." Jack turned on the dome light and snatched the book from my grasp.
"Hey, give it back."
"No, this is evidence —" He whistled.
Jack held up a hand to silence me, then turned a couple more pages. I tried to retrieve the book, but he jumped across the seat, and my fingernails scratched the cover.
"You're going to tell me what that is, Hawkes."
"A minute, please."
Finally, he stopped shifting pages and looked up, his face a mask of disbelief. "A detailed report on human trafficking activity coming through Florida, then going out across the U.S. He's documented everything, who his clients are, what they've paid, which countries the women came from. Everything. A bit of coding, but easily worked out. This guy really is an ego manic."
"Wow." This was nothing like I'd expected when I took the journal. "So does it go to the FBI or Interpol?"
"Probably both. You drive. I'll send someone to pick up my car later." Jack pulled out his cell.
I should have called Kat to give her the high sign, but I needed to process a lot of this first. To figure out how to tell her the blackmailer had more to worry about than the loss of his moneymaking portrait, and do so without giving away state secrets. I also had to find a sensitive way to reveal her father knew about the blackmail but had kept the knowledge secret from her mother. There could be many reasons why, both sincere and creepy.
Kat and I were scheduled to meet in the airport short-term parking in a few hours. The plan was to hand over the portrait, letting it go practically unnoticed from my car trunk to hers before we split up — me for my southbound flight and Kat to turn the painting over to her mother.
"I'd like to give the portrait to Kat instead of the senator's aide," I said when Jack hung up from his hushed-voice call to Interpol. "I'll tell her that her dad knows, but I think this needs to be a family conversation instead of one originating with an employee."
"Agreed. Is she meeting you at the airport?"
"We'll have a greeting party for the journal once we get to Miami. The suits are definitely interested."
I smiled into oncoming headlights and merged onto the freeway. "Our low-tech blackmailer has just become an even lower lowlife."
"And you, my love, have gained the prize that will give hundreds of innocent women their lives back."
"One nasty bad guy down, one art criminal mastermind still to go."
Excerpted from Marked Masters 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat, having trouble catching my breath. I'm hooked on this series, fascinated with the high-society world of art-supporters & the seedy world of art forgeries. I could easily read another 3-4 more volumes of this series without losing interest. These characters pull you into their lives, and the action leaves you happily dazed.
This book opens with Laurel Beacham in Florida with Jack Hawkes. Despite what they have just gone through in the first book in this series, Laurel still doesn’t trust Jack and is only reluctantly working with him. He is keeping too many secrets from her while demanding she share everything she know. They are continuing to work together, however, in order to stop a major art heist, and Florida is their most promising lead. A kidnapping and a dead body prove that they are on the right track. Will they learn more about the plans in order to stop the heist? Or will they be stopped permanently? There is a strong on-going story line in this series involving an upcoming art heist, so I definitely recommend you read these books in order. In fact, I wish I had read this one closer to the first. The author does do a good job of filling in the blanks on what has happened before, which helped me remember the events of the first book. The story starts strong and keeps going from twist to turn as the pages fly by, resolving enough to make this book feel like it has resolved while still leaving plenty for Laurel and Jack to face in the next book. The duo make for intriguing leads, and the characters we meet along the way hold our interest as well.
Great action and adventure read. I loved it
I have to say one thing for this series, if you want nonstop action, this is it. This sort of reminds me of Lara Croft and James Bond collide. I love Laurel and Jack and in this book they seem to be getting a little closer. I do have to say the non-trust between them gets a little tiring as poor Laurel never seeming to get any sleep did, but I guess that's what happens in that business. You don't know who you can trust and there are plenty of twists. Good side characters, love Nico, and this book is leading you into the next as the first did into this one, however I don't think that you would have any problem reading this as a stand alone. I will definitely continue on with this series.
After reading, and sincerely enjoying, Counterfeit Conspiracies, I was eager to start Marked Masters. However, other commitments kept me from diving in right away. I found that a mixed blessing, mainly because it gave me time to really digest the first book, but also to know that I was going to need to set aside time to properly read this one. With the first book I got lucky; I had a nice chuck of uninterrupted time to really get into the book without any worrying about distractions. I didn't have the going into the second book right away. It took me a couple of tries, but I finally got a chance to really dive in and enjoy this book. We start shortly after the conclusion of events in book 1. It quickly becomes apparent that there is an overall series mystery, in addition to the one that is the focus of the book. And though the book maintained it's retro-classic feel, I really enjoyed the updated feminist power of our heroine saving not only herself, but the hero as well. Who says we need a man to save us? Two thumbs up for Girl Power! Although most cozies are written with a lighter tone, I did enjoy the more drama based feel for these books. Not that they weren't humorous; there were several spots that I couldn't help but giggle with evil glee at Laurel's shenanigans. It's just that the books had a more weighty feel, most probably aided by the international locations in the book. This was once again a 4 star read. Netgalley and Henery Press provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Marked Masters by Ritter Ames is the second book in A Bodies of Art Mystery series. Laurel Beacham is an art recovery expert. She recovers stolen artwork (statutes, paintings, jewelry). Laurel has earned a promotion is now the head of the London office at the Beacham Foundation. Her latest case links her with Jack Hawkes (from the first book). The two set off to prevent the heist of the decade (maybe the century). Come along for the ride and watch Laurel and Jack at work. I found Marked Masters to be too nonsensical for me. I read the book, but I did not enjoy it. Marked Masters is very similar to the first book (just a different case). Laurel and Jack run around, get chased and shot at, and are then victorious. Marked Masters is just not my type of book (this is definitely not a cozy mystery nor a suspense book). I wanted a mystery and I did not get it (not really). While Marked Masters is the second book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone book (especially since the first novel is completely rehashed in Marked Masters). I give Marked Master 3 out of 5 stars. I just found the novel too fake for my tastes. I received a complimentary copy of Marked Masters from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the book.
Title: Marked Masters - Bodies of Art Mystery Book 2 Author: Ritter Ames Published: 2-2-16 Publisher: Henery Ames Pages: 199 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense Sub Genre: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths ISBN: 9781943390496 ASIN: B017MW416 Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley . Laurel Beacham is back and brought a few of her friends with her. Set in both Miami, Florida which I grew up around and also in Florence, Italy which I wish I had visited. Ritter Ames has taken me back to my old stomping grounds and I could not be happier unless I was once more walking the roads I use to know so well. She has used her research and words to draw a verbal picture so you can visualize the different scenes as Laurel travels and explores. If you have not read book 1 Counterfeit Conspiracy do not worry Marked Masters can easily be read as a standalone, but this series is addictive and you will be reading book one just because you do not want to let Laurel and her friends leave just yet. Marked Masters is fast paced with characters that are well developed with strong personalities that you will want to get to know better. This series just keeps getting better and better.
Great Book! This is a great book; this is the second book in the Bodies of Art series by Ritter Ames. Larel Beacham is known as the world’s leading art recovery expert. She has thwarted more heists than the average law enforcement professional. Her last job was the head position over the London branch of Beacham Foundation which has now caused her an even bigger case. She has to work with Jack Hawkes in order to track down some missing art. If you are looking for a great mystery then you need to read this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this 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.
Marked Masters is the second book in Ritter Ames' Bodies of Art Mystery Series. It begins soon after the completion of book 1, Counterfeit Conspiracies. The Beacham Foundations Laurel Beacham, now head of the London office, and the mysterious Jack Hawkes have travelled to Florida, first Orlando, then Miami, following leads to find Simon Babbage and the missing artifact. In addition, they are seeking clues in an attempt to thwart a major art heist that the underground is humming about but none of their sources have any real information for them. In Miami, Tony B, known in the underground circles as someone you don't want to cross, but also someone who has kept his hands clean, has Laurel kidnapped only to show her beloved art works that were stolen years ago. Using all her wiles, and a few tools packed by Nico, her right-hand tech geek. The trail takes them back across the Atlantic and again to Florence, where the connections are fast and the happenings are furious. Follow Laurel, Jack, Nico, and the rest of the Beacham Foundation crew as they struggle against forces they do not yet comprehend. Who is actually seeking to harm and torment Laurel, and what is the real part that Jack Hawkes plays in this puzzle? Fast paced with unexpected twists, this is a perfect sequel to the first book in the series and link to the next edition. I do recommend this book and series.
I went straight from Book one into Book two and while book 2 seemed a touch not as exciting, it was still good. There's still problems with the relationships going on in the stories and a few changes have been made in the head office. An item not found in the first book has been found in this book, but is it real or counterfeit? I really glad I happened on this series. The story is great and I'm really starting to like the characters even more than I did in the first book. I think this series is a WINNER! Kudos to Henery Press for taking on this series, as well!! Huge thanks to Henery Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Marked Masters by Ritter Ames is book #2 in her Bodies of Art series. I literally just finished book one and dove straight into this one because I needed to continue the story. Laurel is such a complex woman but I like her and admire her knowledge and her sassy attitude. She is finally adjusting to working with a partner, even if she still doesn't trust him. Jack Hawkes is still a mystery to me. He is definitely an Alpha who is used to working alone and giving orders, not taking them from anyone. In this book, I did get a glimpse of more depth to him than in the previous book. I do understand Laurel's trust issue though because he is definitely closed off when it comes to his past and who or what he is working for to pursue the art conspiracies. Another fast paced plot but the details of the paintings and of Florence did slow me down but only because I wanted to look up the places that Ms. Ames was describing throughout the story. The intrigue of forgeries and murder kept me guessing but I must wait until the next book for more clues. Please, Ms. Ames, write faster so that I can continue the adventure with Laurel, Jack and Nico. I received an ARC from Henery Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you,Henery Press, for your generosity.
One of the things I love about a great book is that I have to keep reading and cannot put it down. Marked Masters by Ritter Ames is book 2 of this new series and it hit this mark for me. Seriously, my heart was racing and my brain kept wanting to jump ahead to read what was coming, even though I needed to read every word so that I could know what is going on. This book starts right smack dab in the middle of an “op” involving Laural Beacham and Jack Hawkes, only this time, they start off in the US. Marked Masters is just as fact- and travel-packed as book 1 and travels to London and Italy. These two keep getting into trouble and the other is there to help get them out. Yes, chaos ensues. They are on the trail of some of the same art thieves, along with some new “bad” guys but I won’t give any details as it would spoil the story for you. I am even more hooked into this series, if that is even possible, and will wait impatiently for book 3. There’s a bit of a set up for the next book, at the end, for what I believe to be series continuity, but not enough so that you feel as if you wasted your time reading it. It just made me anxious for the next book. I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. Honestly? Pick up this series! I love it and am happy I found this new-to-me-author.
[ I received this book free from the author and I am on her "street team" . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising] Laurel Beachum is at it again! The first book in this series introduced an Art Historian with a degree from Cornell, and her family's problematic progenitors, and a little more on hiw her profligate father tarnished the family reputation. This book reflects her love for her work and for the art she restores back to their rightful owners. We are introduced to how she became enamored with art, and why she feels so passionate about it. We see how she has made friends she's not sure of, enemies who want her dead, and fellow conspirators who care for her despite what the rumors might say. Laurel and Jack are teamed up again, but who trusts who, or more like who should anyone trust. Even the forgeries are being forged, and that confuses the heck out of everyone. As much as Jack has a memory for faces, Laurel has a memory for brushstrokes, and together they figure our the mystery of the Marked Masters. A fast fun read that makes you feel like you are riding on the back of a Vespa all around Florence.
Laura Beachem has a new mission...to retrieve a painting that is being used to blackmail a friend of hers. But imagine her surprise when after failing to find the painting, she discovers former colleague Jack Hawkes in the back seat of her car with the painting in hand. Turns out he was also asked to retrieve this piece of art, and just beat her to the punch. But Laurel also retrieved a little black book with other blackmailing schemes detailed in it and she and Jack need to get this in the hands of the proper agencies. But doing so seems to be a problem and they quickly find out the stakes are deadly. Or does this have anything to do with Laurel's previous escape from underworld figure Moran. This is the second book in this series and as with the first presents interesting characters and nonstop action. These books should be read in order in order to better appreciate the characters back stories. I look forward to the next book in this series. Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Laurel Beacham of the Beacham Foundation and Jack Hawkes of who-knows-what together again! What could be better? Of course she doesn't completely agree but he makes sure it happens. They do make a great team fighting evils in the art world! Fans of Conspiracy Theory are in luck, this sequel is just as awesome as the first book in the Bodies of Art Mysteries; you will be delighted with the results. I discovered Ritter Ames' writing when she released her first cozy mystery, Organized for Murder, and fell in love with her writing. I am a big mystery fan from cozy to suspense and even read some lower level thrillers so I was excited to discover that she is a great suspense novel writer too. Conspiracy Theory is straight high-tension, complex suspense. The book wrapped up satisfactorily and I loved it, but there were still issues that arose during the novel that I wanted to know more about, so I was thrilled to read the continuation of the story in Marked Masters. I now know that it was planned as a trilogy, so I have one more book to look forward to with the awesome team of Laura Beacham and Jack Hawkes. While I believe that a reader who reads the books in sequence will enjoy watching the development of their relationship, Mark Masters could be completely enjoyed as a stand-alone. On the other hand, once you read it you will want to go back and read Conspiracy anyway just because it is that good. I was honor to receive an early signed copy of the book; I am a total fan of all of her work.