A Picasso painting, worth a hundred million dollars, disappears en route from Chicago to New Hampshire. Literally-en route. The painting goes missing while the truck is moving. The painting is there, then it’s not. It’s gone, but it can’t be. Kendra Jean Valentine, underwriting agent for the policy, is on the hook. She scrapes together enough to hire two women to work the case.
Westen Hughes owns a failing pet shop. With creditors phoning daily, she jumps at the chance to earn a bundle of easy money, even though the offer comes from her old nemesis KJ Valentine, who stole everything in high school: head cheerleader, homecoming queen and the star quarterback. KJ pairs her with Westen’s total opposite: Phoebe Smith, a snake-loving, underwear-hating, tuba player with more baggage than Logan Airport.
Ten percent of a hundred million is…well, it’s a lot so Smith and Westen join forces on a rollercoaster ride to find one of the world’s most valuable paintings.
Cold Coffee Review: Transporting hundred million dollar valuables by vehicle presents many challenges as Kendra Jean Valentine, agent for NH Property and Casualty Insurance well knows. Her job requires that she covers all bases. This job was no different from the others. She chose the trucking company, interviewed the two truck drivers and handpicked four security guards to drive in two separate vehicles, one in front and one behind the truck to assist her in driving from Chicago to Buffalo and then non-stop from Buffalo to Concord, New Hampshire.
Arriving at their destination Kendra is relieved to arrive and more than happy to turn Picasso’s The Old Guitarist painting over to the curator, Henderson McGee. The painting was secured and padlocked in a six foot cube wooden crate. Only Kendra and the curator in Chicago had the keys. When the crate in opened the painting is not inside and Kendra is on the hook. Her exact thought “How was it possible for so many things to go wrong for one person at the same time? She must’ve done something really awful in a past life.”
With strong characters and good dialog the reader is submerged into a fast paced mystery that is led by two untrained, inexperienced and incompatible women named Smith and Weston. Out of their league these two sleuths find themselves in many situations. I quote one from page # 103 in my copy.
“Smith and Westen started up the walk side-by-side. Westen twisted the antique glass doorknob and they went in, footsteps thudding on the bare hardwood floor, stained by at least fifty years of shoes and boots. The place smelled like a combination of pine cleaner which obviously hadn’t been used in the hallway and vanilla scented candle. They climbed the steep stairs. Westen tried not to touch the railing. She hadn’t brought any hand sanitizer.”
Well written mystery by Author Cindy Davis that will keep you guessing until the end.
I, Theodocia McLean, endorse On The Hook (Volume 1) in the Smith and Westen Mysteries. After you read On The Hook, Just Smashing (Volume 2) and Two Million Reasons (Volume 3) are waiting for you to solve. I purchased this book from Kindle. This review was completed on September 29, 2015.
Snake-lover Phoebe Smith and Susie-homemaker Westen Hughes, the Northeast’s most mismatched investigative team, is at it again. During the preliminary unveiling of a local college’s Egyptian exhibit, a vase worth $1.75 million disappears in front of seven people. Well, six people and the thief, because sure as shortcake has strawberries, the vase is there one minute; the next, it’s gone.
Usually clues clog a case but this time secrets are causing more trouble than fifty Dennis the Menaces. Smith disappears for hours on end. Is she tired of Westen 24/7? Or is there a man in her life? Westen can’t ask; she has a secret of her own: she’s taking shooting lessons. Sergeant “Charlie” Bartowski’s secret: without that vase, her promotion will be squashed—again.
Somehow, nemesis Kendra Jean Valentine convinces them to take the case. KJ’s secret: find the vase, collect the 10%. Nothing new there.
Will anyone find the vase?
Will any secrets cause irreparable trouble?
A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm… When Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her torment it nearly breaks her. Instead, she leads her fellow slaves to freedom. More prisons are scattered across Parthalan, and Asherah vows to burn them all.
Caol’nir, a warrior descended from the gods, is sworn to serve and defend the king. Then a priestess is murdered, and Caol’nir learns that Sahlgren is to blame. Determined to stop the king, sacred oath or no, Caol’nir joins Asherah’s rebellion. What Caol’nir doesn’t know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman whose abilities are rumored to rival the sun god’s themselves…a woman Caol’nir knows all too well.
The first warning is swift and to the point, but bookstore owners Glenn and Lindsay Reade don’t ‘get it’ until their lives are threatened a second time. All they’ve done is read a young girl’s diary and attempt to locate the owner. Just because the journal describes the girl’s rape and subsequent murder of the rapist is no reason for anyone to want them dead, is it?
The book is obviously more than forty years old. Who in the tiny Berkshire town of Paris, Massachusetts could still care?
But someone does. And that someone is willing to kidnap and murder to protect their long-buried secret.
A day of fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee sounds like just the medicine for Angie’s overworked husband’s birthday. In spite of inherent seasickness, she happily goes on the tour with him. How is she to know that by the end of the day they’ll both be suspects in the boat owner’s death?
As police and the forensics team storm the boat, Angie comforts the distraught widow, who quickly becomes the chief suspect. Which makes sense; besides Valerie, why would any of the five strangers want the insensitive Nolan Little dead?
Fearful Val begs Angie to help clear her name. Angie says no, it’s too dangerous. But Val’s determined, and Angie goes along to keep her from getting killed—despite the fact that she just caught Will cheating; despite the fact that her brother-in-law has just run off with every penny of their money; despite the fact that black duffle bags are appearing and disappearing more often than Houdini.
She should, but doesn’t ask herself, “Could any of these events be related?”
Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author Cindy Davis
Cindy Davis is originally from the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts. In 1989, she and her family moved to the four season state of New Hampshire, amid the mountains, lakes and year-round views. She’s always enjoyed writing—even began her first novel at the age of 9. The book took place in Egypt and was titled “The Pyramid”. The experts say “Write what you know” and that’s probably why she never finished the story—until then, she’d never been further from home than Rhode Island!
When her second husband, Bob, encouraged her to go back to school, she enrolled in a Journalism & Short Story course. It’s been a whirlwind since then. She wrote her first novel Final Masquerade–republished as Take the Money and Run, and never looked back. Now, after 14 novels and a number of non-fictions, she’s still going strong. Cindy’s just completed the sixth in her Angie Deacon mystery series set in upstate NH—Stone Cold Sober will be out before Christmas.
In 1998 she began freelance editing. That endeavor has spiraled into a full time business. She works mostly with fiction, but a lot of non-fiction also. She recently edited a memoir of a retired mafia don and, at the same time, a memoir of a retired dominatrix. Talk about diversion! She’s edited for a number of publishing houses, but the freelance is her favorite because she can pick and choose the most interesting and unique stories to work on with the author.
July 1, Cindy took two life-altering trips. One to Italy where she soaked up the rays and the ambiance. Will a new book be forthcoming? Of course. The second lift-changing situation: she packed up and moved to Florida to soak up more rays and hike with her miniature Dachshund Montana.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Florida? Having only been here three months, I’m still settling in, but I look forward to writing some books based here. How I’ll get Angie Deacon out of NH, I have no clue, but book seven in the series will surely be set here.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? My second husband. He encouraged me to do something I loved. I took a few courses and finished the first draft of Final Masquerade in three months. I typed THE END and burst into tears. Poor guy that was the moment he came home from work. Naturally he thought I’d crashed the car or something.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? I think it was in the back of my mind when I began Final Masquerade. None of my family cares about reading so it wouldn’t do any good sitting on the coffee table. LOL.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? No, I don’t think so, but I believe bits of my past appear in each story. They DO say “write what you know”.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? Depends on the story. Some are a struggle even after the book is written like with Final Masquerade. I didn’t know the title till the last sentence. With Rest in Pieces–I heard that phrase on an episode of The Sopranos and decided it would make a good mystery story. Mine’s not about dismemberment though, the theme revolves around jigsaw puzzles.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? Most of my books are mysteries. I cut my teeth on the Bobbsey Twins, graduated to Nancy Drew, then Agatha Christie, and never looked back. I love constructing complicated plots like in the Angie Deacon series, and making the reader work to solve them.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? I’ll answer this for the book I’ll be working n next because I’ve just finished the sixth in the Angie Deacon series. The next book, tentatively titled What Happens in Rome…was inspired by a vacation there back in June. I’m going to take one of my single titles A Lethal Dose of Love and use the characters for a romantic suspense that culminates in Rome.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? I’ve had a lot of good things happen but I think it’s the perpetual encouragement I got from my second husband Bob. He passed away a little over a year ago, but if I stop writing, I know he’ll shoot lightning bolts at me.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The kudos. The friends and followers of my books in New Hampshire. The positive book reviews.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Never give up trying to improve your craft.
Who is your favorite author and why? So many. If I have to choose one–Ruth Rendell. She passed away last year but she had the best, deepest, most well developed characters I’ve ever seen. She had one story about a serial killer as told from his point of view. It was amazing to ‘see’ inside his head. You hated him but felt apathy for him at the same time.
Author Cindy Davis’ Published Books
Cold As Ice
Amazon Author’s Page
Cold Coffee Press
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