As I looked around the long table, I realized it was the first time I had ever seen the board members of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society look happy all at once. I was tempted to take a picture, just to remind myself of the moment when darker days returned, as no doubt they would.—Privy to the Dead by Sheila Connolly (Penguin USA / Berkley Prime Crime, 2015, p. 1)
- Setting: Philadelphia area; modern times
- Circumstances: At the start of a major renovation of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society's museum, one of the construction workers is hit by a car, at night and in front of the building. The police investigation reveals that Cornell Scruggs had pocketed an artifact from an old privy pit located inside the building, although the item was not found on the body. Now there are two questions: Did Scruggs die by accident or murder and what is the significance of the brass escutcheon he stole?
- Characters: Nell Pratt, president of the society; James Morrison, her live-in FBI agent boyfriend; Marty Terwilliger, board member, friend, and descendant of an old Philly family; various board members, assistants, police, contractors, museum staff, and construction workers
- Genre: serious cozy mystery (I just made up that genre)
- What I liked: The mystery was more of a puzzle than a standard, light whodunnit. I loved the Philadelphia setting, the information about antique furniture, and the historical aspects of the case. The characters are terrific, smart, and generally capable. I also liked the relationships among the characters: there were working relationships, friendships, and some romance, offering a nice balance.
- What I didn't like: At the beginning of the book, we learn that Nell and James have just bought an old Victorian house and have moved in together. They seem a bit more befuddled at homeownership and homemaking than I would have expected from two professional adults who have been living on their own.
- Things to know: This is the sixth in Connolly's Museum Mystery series, but I didn't feel at all lost. Of course, I would like to know more about how Nell and James met and got together, but I can always go to the backlist to learn that. I can understand why Connolly has such a strong fan base; she's a good writer and takes cozy mysteries to a new level.
Thanks to Berkley Prime Crime, I can offer one of my readers a copy of Sheila Connolly's Privy to the Dead. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. The giveaway is restricted to those with a U.S. mailing address. I'll pick a winner using a random number generator on June 15. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!