I read a lot of Kindle Freebies, mostly mysteries and boy, is it taking your reading life into your hands to plunge into some of these but I have to say that I’m pretty excited about this particular one. Portrait of a Murder is the first in a series that could become a real favorite of mine.
The story is set in Maine, a state I’ve never been to but would love to visit. The setting is well described and I felt the atmosphere of the ocean side from the beginning. Atmosphere is important to me. I could feel the sun and the spray from the waves and I could smell the salt water. I love that! Also, the main character is described in the very first few pages in enough detail that there was never any doubt who she was or what she looked like. I was comfortable with her right from the start.
Dulcie is the curator at an art museum that is attempting to get a set of Homer Winslow paintings that cover each major location in his repertoire. They are having a grand opening of the Winslow exhibit as a way to raise funds for the last painting they need which is going on sale the next week in New York. The museum’s major patron is willing to kick in whatever is needed to cover the cost beyond what they have raised if he can be the one to go to the auction which Dulcie is happy to agree to. Of course, murder follows and Dulcie gets involved. Pretty much standard in a cozy mystery.
What isn’t as standard is that this cozy mystery actually feels like it was written thoughtfully and for adults. As the cozy genre has exploded, all manor of silliness and goofiness can be found but this book has avoided most of that while still being fun and interesting. The heroine never does anything TSTL. The police actually do the police work. Dulcie doesn’t interfere with the police, instead she actually brings every clue she finds to them and never withholds any evidence. The police are not seen as bumbling idiots but as professionals doing a great job with the help of the citizens. The romantic overtones are there but do not take over the story and everyone involved actually feels like a rational adult. Maybe for some that sounds boring but to me it is a breath of fresh air in a field where it seems anything with an amateur sleuth and a dead body is touted as a masterpiece. My only “hmmm” moment was when Dulcie found a payphone on the waterfront. I can honestly say that I think that is almost an impossibility in this day and age. The loose ends felt like they were tied up a little too easily at the end but all in all, thank you for treating cozy mystery readers like we have a brain and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.