Josie Prescott is the sort of person you know would give you an honest price on your Aunt Tilly's antique clock. Precisely that honesty got her into trouble with the fancy antique auction house where she worked in New York. She spilled the beans on her boss' involvement in a price fixing scheme, and instead of being regarded as a hero by her colleagues, she was treated as a pariah.
Prescott has relocated to New Hampshire, where she has a thriving business in estimating and selling antiques. Hired to appraise the goods and furnishings of the elderly Nathaniel Grant, Prescott is horrified to learn that he has been murdered...and that the chief of police suspects her.
Cleland's characters range from the amiable Josie Prescott to the equally amiable Mrs. Cabot, Grant's daughter, to her daughter, Andi, a drug addict with the personality of a Rottweiller, and to Josie's coterie of friends and employees, all drawn with intelligence and sympathy.
In spite of a few disappointments, Cleland weaves a compelling tale of missing paintings, of paintings bought for a song from Jews fleeing the Nazis, and of the warfare among antique dealers looking for the next lucrative commission. She expertly integrates information about antiques with a plot that moves quickly from murder to the back-biting dealers.