Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Longest Yard Sale (A Sarah winston Garage Sale Mystery #2)

Author:  Sherry Harris
Genre:  Mystery
ISBN #:  9781617730191; 288 Pages: Kensington; June 30, 2015; $7.99


Five Stars

When Sarah Winston turns Ellington, Massachusetts, into New England's largest garage sale for a day, it's the small town's biggest event since the start of the Revolutionary War - but without the bloodshed.   That is, until a valuable painting goes missing...and the lifeless body of an Air Force officer is found in Carol Carson's painting studio, his face perfectly framed with the murder weapon - a metal picture frame.

Sarah is mad as heck that someone used her town-wide garage sale to commit a crime - and frame her good friend Carol.  She is definitely on this case...but it's not easy rummaging through increasingly strange clues that point to cheating spouses, downright dirty  investment schemes - even the mob.  And Sarah will have to be very careful if she wants to live to bargain another day.

********

Sarah Winston, divorced from Ellington's chief of police, CJ, is finding a new career for herself in something she loves to do - organizing garage sales.  She is asked to organize a city-wide garage sale in the town square, which seems to go swimmingly, until there are a series of small fires being set which definitely puts a damper on things.

Later on, her friend Carol asks her to come to Carol's painting studio, where Sarah discovers that there is the body of a dead man, blue from strangulation, and with one of Carol's recently-purchased frames around his neck.  Also missing is Carol's re-creation of the town's famous painting, Battled, which is regarding the Revolutionary War.  Now Sarah decides she needs to help her friend, and find out who the dead man is, where the missing painting went to, and what the two mean together.

Thus begins a very entertaining story of murder, theft, blackmail, art forgery, and, in a very "conflicting" way, Sarah's own love life. 

When Sarah is told to stay out of the investigation both by CJ, her ex, and Seth, her might-be-boyfriend District Attorney, we know from the get-go that she isn't going to listen.  After all, this is her friend, and she doesn't want to see her railroaded for a crime she didn't commit.  But the evidence keeps piling up against Carol.

Also, Stella, Sarah's downstairs neighbor and landlady, has begun a relationship with Dave "Bubbles" Jackson, an old Air Force friend of Sarah's, and it seems he was in business with the dead man and is now receiving threatening letters warning that he's next on the list.  

When Sarah is asked by Stella's Aunt Gennie to help her 'liquidate' some of her furniture, Sarah discovers that there's more to the story:  Gennie is an investor in the company that Dave and Terry (Mr. Dead Guy) own, which brings her into the investigation, in Sarah's mind

Meanwhile, Sarah is being pursued by both Seth and CJ, and she's trying to keep both at arms' length until she decides what she wants to do with her life.  She also doesn't want CJ to know anything about her new relationship with Seth until she's decided once and for all what decision she's made, which makes the "juggling" even harder.

The tale is woven nicely, and all the pieces fit beautifully together at the end.  We are given a conclusion that is both believable and satisfying, and that is what a mystery - or any book, for that matter - should do.  Highly recommended.


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