Friday, May 12, 2023

"A Wealth of Deception"

Trish Esden loves museums, gardens, wilderness, dogs and birds, in various order depending on the day. She lives in Northern Vermont where she deals antiques with her husband, a profession she’s been involved with since her teens. Don’t ask what her favorite type of antique is. She loves hunting down old bottles and rusty barn junk as much as she enjoys fine art and furnishings.

Esden applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Wealth of Deception, and reported the following:
On page 69 Vermont art and antique dealer, Edie Brown, is examining photos she’s received from a friend. They are of collages created by an elderly and reclusive outsider artist known only as Vespa.
…I set to work downloading the photos from Jimmy’s email—a total of twelve images. Besides the beach scene, there was a collage of a railroad station, reminiscent of the townscape in tone and theme. Jimmy was right. The photos I’d taken had been poor at best. Still, like my photos and unlike the images of Vespa’s work I’d seen online, Jimmy included extremely close-up shots that allowed me to view what I assumed had gotten him excited.

Identical small “V’s” were scratched into both pieces. Actually, in the case of the beach scene, there were a bunch of “V’s” disguised as stylized seagulls, some right side up and others upside down, all perfectly symmetrical. Both pieces also featured a man looking away from the viewer. I’d noticed a similar man in Anna’s townscape, standing in an alleyway near a puddle of blood. At that time, I’d guessed he was relieving himself. I wasn’t as sure about that anymore…
A Wealth of Deception is the second book in the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series. Like the first book in the series—The Art of the Decoy—the mystery isn’t centered on a murder investigation but rather on an object and a crime. In this case the book’s focus is a townscape collage that has the earmarks of a Vespa piece, but the owner insists it was created by a relative who’s suffered a traumatic brain injury and does art for therapy. Determined to uncover the truth, Edie’s sets out to verify or disprove the piece’s provenance. As such, page 69 gives the reader a good look at A Wealth of Deception’s main plot, the book’s tone, and a peek at what it’ll be like for the reader to solve the mystery alongside Edie. However, I should add that Edie gets in a lot more trouble and dangerous situations than this snippet might lead a reader to believe.
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--Marshal Zeringue