Saturday, February 27, 2016

Art and Publishing Intersect with Murder

Judith Flanders
St. Martins Minotaur
March 1, 2016

I was delighted to have the opportunity to read the second book in the Sam Clair Mystery series, as I enjoyed the first, A Murder of Magpies, so much. Sam Clair is a 40ish editor in a British publishing house. Witty, sarcastic and endlessly curious, Sam never lets go when she gets a problem between her teeth. This time, the problem starts when she has lunch with an old friend and former lover, art dealer Aidan Merriam. The very morning of the lunch Aidan discovered the body of his partner in business, Frank Compton. The Yard thinks the death was probably a suicide, but will be tearing the gallery's business dealings apart before a decision is made. Aidan is afraid that something may be wrong with the business that he knows nothing about. Of course, the investigating officer is Jake Field, Sam's new boyfriend and part-time live-in. Jake wants to keep her out of the investigation, especially after Sam was nearly killed in A Murder of Magpies. No such luck, though, since Sam is determined to help her friend. The discovery of another dead body, one who had connections to the gallery, just cements her resolve; Jake's misgivings or not.

Sam's terrifyingly efficient barrister mother, Helena, is back, managing her daughter and just about everyone else she meets. Whatever slack she leaves is handled by Miranda, Sam's goth assistant. In the end, it is Sam's somewhat arcane publishing knowledge that solves the crime, but the clues are plentiful if one looks for them. Having worked in bookselling and publishing for years, I find this series especially delightful. The politics, attitudes and mechanics of the industry (endless meetings, insane scheduling, etc.) are spot-on. Sam's voice is one that I can relate to as well as her love of books. I didn't find A Bed Of Scorpions quite as funny as A Murder of Magpies but the excellent characterization and well-plotted mystery more than made up for fewer laughs. I would recommend Sam Clair to anyone with an interest in publishing and crime, with a little romance to spice it up. 

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Minotaur for an advance digital copy in return for an honest review.

RATING- 4.5 Stars

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