Petite, indomitable North Carolinian Abigail Timberlake rose gloriously up from the ashes of divorce--parlaying her savvy about exquisite old things into a thriving antiques enterprise: the Den of Antiquity. Now she's a force to be reckoned with in Charlotte's close-knit world of mavens, eccentrics and cuttthroat dealers. But a superb, gilt-edged 18th-century French armoire she purchased for a song at estate auction has just arrived along with something she didn't pay for: a dead body.
Suddenly her shop is a crime scene--and closed to the public during the busiest shopping season of the year--so Abigail is determined to speed the lumbering police investigation along. But amateur sleuthing is leading the feisty antiques expert into a murderous mess of dysfunctional family secrets. And the next cadaver found stuffed into fine old furniture could wind up being Abigail's own.
Number two in the series featuring goings-on at the Den of Antiquity in Charlotte, N.C., has gals (never women) who say y'all and Hey! in greeting, but, except for some magnolias toward the end, precious little Southern atmosphere. Narrator/proprietor Abigail Timberlake, whose mama wears crinolines while cleaning house, is four feet nine inches of indefatigable perkiness who, when it comes right down to it, would rather die than not be cute. A serviceable story involving a corpse that has bloodied a valuable armoire is frequently stopped in its tracks by wildly exaggerated descriptions and non sequiturs that are seldom funny and often tasteless ("[Y]ou wouldn't like it if I farted on your food, would you?"). Random bits about antiques may lure other readers, but true appreciators will be die-hard cozy addicts.--ou wouldn't like it if I farted on your food, would you?"). Random bits about antiques may lure other readers, but true appreciators will be die-hard cozy addicts.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 01, 1996
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Excerpt from Gilt by Association by Tamar Myers
The invoice from the estate auction read as follows:
one Louis XV armoire one Louis XV desk one small Louis XV table one carved and gilded mirror
It said nothing about a body. I read the invoice one more time just to be sure. No body.
I sat down rather heavily on a sturdy Victorian side chair. Finding a corpse in a closet is not a daily occurrence at the Den of Antiquity. One should excuse me then for stopping to catch my breath before I called the Charlotte police. I'm sure you will understand as well when I tell you that it took me several minutes to catch that breath.
My name is Abigail Timberlake, and the Den of Antiquity is all that I have. Three years ago I was a happily married woman, mother of two almost grown children, library volunteer, and president of the Episcopal Church Women. I even had a dog, Scruffles, and a cat, Dmitri. But that was then, and this is now, as my children used to say.
Buford Timberlake changed all that. As ex-husbands go, Buford is the sludge at the bottom of the pond. Timberlake the Timber Snake, I call him. Of course some of the credit should go to the blond puffball who used to be his secretary and now is his wife. Tweetie Byrd--her real name, I kid you not--insinuated herself into my husband's lap, and then his life, with the rapidity of a striking snake, so maybe she's part reptile, too. At any rate, Tweetie is now mistress of the manor, and stepmother to my son, Charlie. Thank God, my daughter, Susan, had already flown the nest when The Byrd took over.
That Buford had been awarded custody of everything near and dear to me (with the exception of my shadow) has nothing to do with my competence or moral track record. It is simply because Buford is a lawyer. A damn good lawyer. Maybe the best. Buford is capable of convicting Pollyanna of a bad attitude, and once he decided to go for Tweetie, who was twenty, and cast me aside, it was all over except for the pain.
I am lucky to have escaped with my antique shop. I can only guess that Tweetie presumed the Den of Antiquity was a geriatric sex club, and being so consumed with Buford, hadn't enough energy left over to take that on as well. I would like to think that the shop would have remained mine no matter what, since I started it from scratch. Of course I started my children from scratch as well, but that didn't stop Tweetie Byrd from taking over my nest and stealing my remaining fledgling.
None of that has anything to do with the price of antique silk in China, or what I'm about to tell you. I just wanted you to know that I didn't have it "made in the shade"--to quote The Byrd--and I still don't. The fact that my dearly departed Aunt Eulonia (herself a murder victim) left me a considerable estate last year, and I finally have some financial stability, is none of Tweetie's business. The point I'm trying to make is that my shop has come to fill a tremendous void in my life. Outside of my loved ones, it is my life.
So I hope you can understand how it was that finding a corpse in a closet was threatening, to say the least. I realize now how callous this must sound to you. How shocked you probably are that I didn't immediately respond to the corpse as a person. But I was in shock myself, you see. After all the stress I'd been under, something had simply shorted out in my brain. Even now I cringe when I say this, but I was far more concerned about what the body would do to my business than about the body itself. I wish now that I had felt differently.
I also wish that I had called 911. Unfortunately, someone else beat me to the punch.
"Well, well, what have we here?"