Serena Jones is the youngest member of the FBI Art Crime Unit. She is on her first undercover assignment as the novel begins, and what could be a serious and seriously boring story is anything but. Serena is smart, a bit sassy, claustrophobic, and a great choice for narrator. She’s a knowledgeable and capable agent, who is surprising bad at keeping the details of her life, and work, from her friends and family. And that is part of what makes this mystery so much fun.
My mother’s hysterical “You should be giving me grand-babies, not buying paintings from bad guys in some flea-bitten motel room where it’ll be days before a maid finds your cold, dead body” babbled through my brain. I hadn’t even told her why I was going to Buffalo. She’d guessed. (p.11)
The central mystery begins when a friend asks Serena to take on the investigation of two paintings missing from a local St. Louis museum. A case “colder than Buffalo” (p.27), that has her interviewing the museum staff and participating in the funniest chase scene I’ve ever read.
A secondary mystery is one that I am sure will be a thread through the series, the murder of Serena’s grandfather and theft of his painting. Another thread will undoubtedly be Serena’s romantic prospects, her family’s meddling in them, and possibly her slow descent into being a bit of a cat-lady.
I liked the touch of having her parents be British and I adored her Aunt Martha, a feisty old lady who just can’t keep out of the case.
“Good detection is all about thinking outside the box, and no one thinks further outside the box than me.” (Aunt Martha, p.91)
This is a fast paced story, with just enough danger (she will keep going into unsavory places) and a nice dose of humor. This can easily be read as a romance, since there are plenty of attractive and willing male characters swarming around, but it is definitely a mystery. As a reader who used to read a lot of mysteries, I was mostly kept guessing, but once solved, everything made sense. All good things, and all a lot of fun.
Recommended if you enjoy light mystery, romance, and a fun narrator. I was a little apprehensive about picking a straight mystery to read, but I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I raced through it, wanting to know what would happen next and wanting to learn more about her building superintendent and a certain senior FBI agent… I stopped reading a couple of popular mystery series quite a few years ago, partly because they were dragging on so long and partly because of some of the “romantic” content. No worries here, if you like a fun, clean mystery story. I’m looking forward to the second book, Another Day, Another Dali due out from Revell in October. Such fun titles!
Can I say it one more time? Fun!
A Fool & His Money (A Serena Jones Mystery, #1) by Sandra Orchard | Revell, March 2016 | paperback, 323 pages
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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.”