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Erica’s Pick of the Week: The Framed Women of Ardemore House

As a seasonal reader, I find spring challenging. I’m not ready for the effervescent reads of summer, but I’m also not looking for the big literary titles of the colder months. Instead, I want something that balances substance and charm, something both engaging and offbeat.. Something fresh and fun and a little bit bracing – an admittedly tall order.

Enter The Framed Women of Ardmore House by Brandy Schillace – a not-quite-cozy mystery featuring an unconventional sleuth, a delightful supporting cast, and a thoroughly modern puzzle of a crime. It’s a perfect fit for fans of The Marlow Murder Club, The Maid, or Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge.

Jo Jones has lost a lot in the last few years. Her marriage. Her publishing company (and hence, her job). Her mother. Her confidence. Her sense of belonging. So when she inherits a long-lost relative’s English country estate, the broke and bereft Jo finds it easy enough to pick up and move across the pond. She also finds it easy enough to fire Sid, the estate’s smarmy caretaker, especially given the falling-down state of the property.

More difficult? Convincing the police she’s innocent of murder when Sid turns up dead and a potentially priceless painting disappears. She’s an outsider, after all – a fish out of water, and not just because she’s an American. Jo is neurodivergent; her autism made her an outstanding book editor, but it also makes her self-conscious around other people. The police don’t appreciate her idiosyncrasies, but she quickly befriends the village innkeeper and a Welsh antiques dealer, and eventually, the lead detective. Jo’s desperate to clear her name – and to find the missing painting, a portrait of an unknown woman. The problem is that the killer seems equally interested in the painting…and Jo. 

This is a tightly constructed whodunit, full of humor and engaging characters, including Jo, her newfound allies, and McAdams, the sad-sack detective who finds Sid’s case unexpectedly challenging. Red herrings and likely suspects abound, giving the story the feel of a Golden Age mystery; the contrast of classic tropes with contemporary issues is both refreshing and realistic.

While Sid’s murder is solved by the last page, Ardemore House holds enough secrets that readers will look forward to a return visit.

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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