Curse of the Jade Lily
Review: The insurance agency that paid off a multi-million dollar claim to former St. Paul homicide detective Rushmore McKenzie, allowing him to retire early and do favors for his friends, returns to his doorstep requesting his assistance in an art theft, in Curse of the Jade Lily, the eighth mystery in this series by David Housewright.
A rare, centuries-old carving of imperial jade known as the "Jade Lily" has been stolen from the City of Lakes Art Museum, a boutique operation that is trying to break into the big leagues and can't afford any negative publicity. Hence the decision by the board of directors to pay off the "artnappers". Midwest Farmers Insurance has agreed, though the ransom price is steep: one third of the insured value of $3.8 million. The thieves have also demanded that McKenzie act as the go-between. McKenzie has no obligation to participate but the case has a number of curious elements to it, not the least of which is, why have the artnappers chosen him? That particular question becomes even more important — and curiouser, if you will — when he speaks to the thieves and determines they have no clue who he is. And then he learns there is another group after the Jade Lily … not to ransom it back to the museum, but to return it to who they believe is the rightful owner, from which it was stolen decades earlier.
Curse of the Jade Lily has a clever, crime caper feel to it, with the concerns puzzling McKenzie from the start adding to the entertaining mix. It seems obvious from the onset that the theft is an inside job, which strongly suggests that someone on the board of directors is involved in some way — and is pretty much confirmed when the museum's deputy of security is later found dead — so that is where McKenzie decides to focus his attention. The narrative moves along quickly and though it may seem serpentine at times it actually doesn't stray too far from its pathway, leading to a classic whodunit convention, gathering the suspects in a room — in this case, more precisely, the conference room of the museum — and naming the culprit. Even McKenzie realizes it's a familar scenario: "This is going to be fun," he says, "Like those old Thin Man movies on TCM with William Powell and Myrna Loy." Overall, this mystery is rather fun, if also here and there more than a little predictable.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Curse of the Jade Lily for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2011
ISBN-13: 9780312642303; ISBN-10: 031264230X
The Last Kind Word
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2013
ISBN-13: 9781250009609; ISBN-10: 125000960X
Location(s) referenced in Curse of the Jade Lily: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Thunder Bay, Ontario
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Curse of the Jade Lily by David Housewright — A Rushmore McKenzie Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 2012
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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