09 June 2015

Today's Read & Giveaway: Privy to the Dead by Sheila Connolly

Privy to the Dead by Sheila Connolly
Imagine you were president of a prestigious nonprofit Philadelphia historical society, juggling money issues, maintaining the organization's reputation, and playing nice to the board of directors and the patrons. Nell Pratt can handle all of that like a pro, but things threaten to fall apart when a man is killed one night right in front of the building. Here are Nell's thoughts, before the trouble begins:
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)

Quick Facts
  • 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.
The Giveaway

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!


Unknown 6/9/15, 6:20 AM  

thanks for the chance to win :)

JoAnn 6/9/15, 6:31 AM  

I like your term 'serious cozy'!

Karen and Gerard 6/9/15, 6:41 AM  

Oops, I put my comment under the giveaway by mistake! Oh well, here's my comment: I like your teaser because it's funny! It reminds me of a church board I was a part of once upon a time.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 6/9/15, 7:01 AM  

I liked the intro and haven't read a cozy for a while so might read more.

Anonymous,  6/9/15, 7:13 AM  

Nice teaser, sounds good.

rhapsodyinbooks 6/9/15, 7:15 AM  

I also think "serious cozy" is a legitimate category!

Greg 6/9/15, 7:16 AM  

This looks good, and I like that quote. Seems the board members are a fractious lot! :) Looks fun.

(Diane) bookchickdi 6/9/15, 7:32 AM  

All of us who have worked with a nonprofit board will probably enjoy this.

Unknown 6/9/15, 8:01 AM  

Sounds intriguing!

Mine this week is also from a cozy mystery (but not a serious one), and also a bonus teaser:


Kathy Martin 6/9/15, 8:41 AM  

This sounds good. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. I like the new genre you created. My adult teaser comes from Clockwork Secrets by Dru Pagliassotti. Happy reading!

Sheila Connolly 6/9/15, 8:58 AM  

I'm happy to be here today! I love the term "serious cozy"--that's what I'm aiming for. Nell Pratt doesn't do much cooking, can't knit, and, yes, is clueless about furnishing a Victorian home that swallows up all her furniture (and James's as well) with room to spare. But she cares about history and the Society and her friends, and she sees things that the police can't.

Beth F 6/9/15, 9:08 AM  

@Sheila: no worries, I liked getting to know Nell and James and am looking forward to reading your backlist.

bermudaonion 6/9/15, 9:17 AM  

I loved the new genre. This sounds fun to me!

Katherine P 6/9/15, 9:23 AM  

While I don't feel like this is her strongest series it is one I always enjoy. I worked for a museum for years so there's so much of this that's familiar. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

Kay 6/9/15, 9:43 AM  

I've read a couple of this author's apple series, but have meant to read more of her other series. Love the term serious cozy. You know, I think sometimes people think that the quirky and mostly cute covers on what are termed 'cozies' mean that the story is fluffy or light. That is often not the case. I'm not a big proponent of the label 'cozy' anyway. I think it is a catch-all for mysteries that are not deemed 'thrillers' or 'police procedurals'. My little rant. Putting this one and this series on my list.

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian 6/9/15, 10:02 AM  

I like your new genre label. Haven't heard of this series before, so I think I'll locate the first one and give it a try.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Belle Wong 6/9/15, 10:07 AM  

I really like the idea of a "serious cozy mystery"! Adding this one to my to-read list.

Monica's Bookish Life 6/9/15, 10:38 AM  

I like the sound of this one! It looks like something I'd enjoy.

Literary Feline 6/9/15, 11:01 AM  

I like your new genre title--serious cozy mystery. I can think of a few that would fit into that category. :-)

This sounds like a fun mystery. I like the intro and always enjoy reading your tidbits about the books you are reading.

Juli Rahel 6/9/15, 11:17 AM  

Ooh I've never heard of this book or this author, but it sounds really interesting! I am glad I've never had to deal with any board room meetings so far, they always seem slightly terrifying! Thanks for sharing :) I hope you have a great week!
My Tuesday post
Juli @ Universe in Words

Laurel-Rain Snow 6/9/15, 11:26 AM  

I have a book by this author, set in Ireland; this one sounds very tempting! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Unknown 6/9/15, 12:29 PM  

I'm always looking for a cozy series I haven't tried yet. Thanks for the chance to win. I like that you made up a new genre for this one!

Anonymous,  6/9/15, 12:46 PM  

Thanks for the giveaway chance. I am a reader of Ms. Connolly's County Cork series but haven't read this one. I assume I would like it because I like her styling of cozy writing :)

Kim@Time2Read 6/9/15, 12:48 PM  

Sounds like one for my summer reading list! Thanks for stopping by!

Margot 6/9/15, 1:09 PM  

Based on just the first paragraph it sounds like this person has a good, balanced approach to her job. She knows things get rough but right now its great to celebrate the good. I'm curious to see how she handles the bad stuff that is coming.

Daryl 6/9/15, 1:45 PM  

i am a HUGE fan of serious cozy mystery

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 6/9/15, 2:41 PM  

I'm not a cozy mystery person, but I hope you enjoy it!

Anonymous,  6/9/15, 3:09 PM  

Would love to win, thanks!


Sandra Nachlinger 6/9/15, 4:35 PM  

This "serious cozy" sounds like one I'd enjoy. I like the Philadelphia setting and the connection to the historical society.
My Tuesday post features The Chair.

Unknown 6/9/15, 4:42 PM  

I always aim to keep the positive moments in my life at the fore too; great teaser :)

forgetmenot 6/9/15, 5:39 PM  

Im in Australia so am not qualified to enter, just wanted to say I love your new genre of Serious Cozy!

Yvonne 6/9/15, 9:57 PM  

I have been wanting to read this series. It sounds so good.

Sheila Connolly 6/9/15, 10:04 PM  

Thank you all for stopping by and leaving a comment--they've been really interesting. And I'm glad that you agree that there's room for a slightly darker cozy genre!

Cleopatra Loves Books 6/10/15, 1:52 AM  

Sounds good to me - I do like a mystery with a more complex puzzle.

Wendy Lohr 6/10/15, 8:18 AM  

Great teaser! Isn't it funny how when you get into these types of groups, people are seldom happy unless something bad happens? Thanks for sharing!

Here's my Teaser from Awakening Iris!

Wendy Lohr

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