The Art of the Decoy (Scandal Mountain Antiques #1) by Trish Esden

Welcome to the mysterious and scandal-ridden world of New England antiques. Edie Brown’s grandparents were respected and successful antique dealers in their small Vermont town– but her mother messed it all up.

Bad decisions in love and business mean mom is in jail (and Edie also with an arrest history) over some forged paintings. Her beloved uncle Tuck calls her to help him with the family business (Scandal Mountain Antiques) while her mom is in jail. Reluctantly, Edie goes home.

Right away, she gets mixed up in some mysterious very valuable antique duck decoy appraisal. Things snowball, including murders, encounters with a former lover/bail bond officer, revelations about her mother and the business that put her in jail, etc. etc.

At times Edie is unbelievably brazen, breaking into rival dealer’s houses, for example, and she and her ex are positioned into insta-attraction when I would have appreciated a more gradual, gingerly approach to their rekindling relationship, but what sets apart this series from other mysteries and makes it worth your while, is Evie’s utter passion and knowledge for antiques dealing.

Don’t let “antiques” make this mystery seem fusty. It’s anything but. Antique dealers operate on the edge of respectability, so many temptations for illegal/unethical practices, and beyond the interesting glimpse Edie provides us into that world is how much she is in love with her antiques. She puts herself in danger for the love of those decoys, as art, as expressions of beauty in the world, and she takes the reader along for the ride.

Esden also firmly places this mystery in the milieu of the Vermont/Quebec border, which is also fun to read.

I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the next in the series.

(Esden writes these mysteries as Trish Esden, but also writes Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance as Pat Esden. I suggest you check out her Northern Circle Coven series (also Vermont-y) starting with His Dark Magic)