Thursday, June 8, 2023

Guest Post & Giveaway ~ TO KINGDOM COME by Claudia Riess

To Kingdom Come (Art History Mystery, #4)
by: Claudia Riess
Series: Art History Mystery
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Publisher: Level Best Books

Amateur sleuths, Erika Shawn-Wheatley, art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, art history professor, attend a Zoom meeting of individuals from around the globe whose common goal is to expedite the return of African art looted during the colonial era. Olivia Chatham, a math instructor at London University, has just begun speaking about her recent find, a journal penned by her great-granduncle, Andrew Barrett, active member of the Royal Army Medical Service during England’s 1897 “punitive expedition” launched against the Kingdom of Benin.

Olivia is about to disclose what she hopes the sleuthing duo will bring to light, when the proceedings are disrupted by an unusual movement in one of the squares on the grid. Frozen disbelief erupts into a frenzy of calls for help as the group, including the victim, watch in horror the enactment of a murder videotaped in real time.

It will not be the only murder or act of brutality Erika and Harrison encounter in their two-pronged effort to hunt down the source of violence and unearth a cache of African treasures alluded to in Barrett’s journal.

Much of the action takes place in London, scene of the crimes and quest for redemption.


An introduction to the series’ main characters

Erika Shawn, an editor at Art News magazine, and Harrison Wheatley, an art history professor, are introduced in Stolen Light, book one of my art history mystery series. The back story begins in Cuba, 1958: American-born William Delaney’s sugar plantation is attacked by rebels. He is killed and his priceless art collection is presumed taken as plunder. Fifty years later, Delaney’s widow dies, and his daughter, Helen Gilmore, endeavoring to understand the father her mother never spoke about, is determined to retrieve what she can of his legacy. In her quest to track down her father’s art collection, she enlists the help of Erika, and the more seasoned Harrison. The two begin their quest to uncover what they can of Delaney’s collection.

What begins as an academic exercise quickly escalates to something much more sinister. When Helen is brutally murdered and Erika is anonymously warned to drop the assignment, they press on undeterred to uncover the culprits and find justice for Helen.

Their dogged determination to find Helen’s killer as well as the stolen art work lead them to what may be an historical find. Their sleuthing is complicated by their intensifying attraction, as irresistible and, at this point in their fiery relationship, as threatening as their mission.

Because of their success in navigating a complex investigation, the pair's help is sought after when another puzzling crime in the art world occurs-- and so begins a series of sleuthing adventures now in its fourth installment: To Kingdom Come.

Erika and Harrson’s two-fold desire to track down criminals in the art world and bring to light its lost treasures runs parallel to their evolving love story. Although the books are stand-alones, they’re sequential. The amateur sleuths are now married, and the parents of a feisty toddler, Lucas.

Their crime-solving continues. Their next challenge (working title: Dreaming of Monet) is scheduled for release winter 2024.

The first page identified the journal’s owner and date of inception in neatly penned script:

Andrew James Dexter Barrett
Book One: 22 March 1897 – 17 August 1897

The subject of where Book Two and beyond might have gone off to was not raised because it would have been futile and, at least for now, irrelevant. Erika carefully turned the page to reveal the journal’s first entry, thankfully in that same legible, script: 22 March, homecoming. They read on, silently.

Hard to believe it has been less than ten weeks since the SS Malacca, cargo steamship refitted as a hospital ship, set forth for the Benin coast with me and my fellow medics aboard. It seems like a lifetime ago, perhaps because I have become a new man, or rather a newly awakened man, in the interim.

I have learned firsthand what history books and hearsay can only, at best, inadequately describe, and I will never again shut my eyes to the indignities and injustices we self-proclaimed entitled few, heap upon our brethren: those less fiscally sound as well as those of darker skin.

On Saturday, 20 March, when the ship pulled into Gosport, England, Father was waiting for me on the dock in top hat and frock coat, dapper as the nobleman he is. As I heave-hoed my laundry bag containing the rescued Benin treasures into our horse-drawn carriage, Father commented on its obvious weight. “What have you got in there?” he asked, with barely a trace of curiosity. “Medical books and instruments,” I answered without hesitation, realizing as I uttered the words that I had no intention of bringing him into my confidence.

I had been getting about on my own for years and could very well have hired a carriage to take me on the sixty-six-mile journey home, but Father had been adamant about accompanying me, even though it meant that both he and his coachman must overnight at an inn to, and again from, Gosport. In retrospect, I wonder if his intention, perhaps not conscious, was to use our extensive time alone to reclaim his control over me, since he did, after all, spend a good deal of time speaking of his activities in the House of Lords and pressing upon me the certainty that I was “marvelously suited” to that rewarding life. Mid-point between Gosport and Hertfordshire, we rented rooms at the inn in Guildford, where Father and the coachman had stayed the night before. To dilute Father’s lecture disguised as conversation, I must have consumed more ale that night than I had in the previous six months.

I awakened this morning well rested, but with a raging headache. Father must have taken pity on me because for the balance of our journey he eased up considerably on his mission to refashion me as a slightly taller version of himself. We arrived home late this evening, and Mother’s embrace and smile of relief comforted me no end. Never mind my goals in life. All that mattered to Mother was my safe return to Barrett Farms.

Purchase To Kingdom Come from:
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The Art History Mystery Series:

Claudia Riess is an award-winning author of seven novels, four of which form her art history mystery series published by Level Best Books. She has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt, Rinehart and Winston, and has edited several art history monographs. Stolen Light, the first book in her series, was chosen by Vassar’s Latin American history professor for distribution to the college’s people-to-people trips to Cuba. To Kingdom Come, the fourth and most recent, will be added to the syllabus of a survey course on West and Central African Art at a prominent Midwest university. Claudia has written a number of articles for Mystery Readers Journal, Women’s National Book Association, and Mystery Scene magazine. At present, she’s consulting with her protagonists about a questionable plot twist in Chapter 9 of the duo’s murder investigation unfolding in book 5; working title: Dreaming of Monet, scheduled for release winter 2024. For more about Riess and her work, visit her website.

All four books in the art history mystery series are available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, IndieBound.org and at independent book stores. For bulk discount purchases, contact https://levelbestbooks.wordpress.com.

Places to find Claudia Riess:

You can follow the To Kingdom Come Name Before the Masses Tour here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

59 comments:

  1. The cover art looks great. I enjoyed the excerpt. Sounds like a good mystery.

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  2. This author is a wonderful writer, I've read many of her books in this series, what a great post about them. M.Rosen

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  3. Thank you for sharing your guest post, bio and the book details, I have enjoyed reading about you and your work and I am looking forward to reading To Kingdom Come

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. The author isn't able to post a comment, so asked us to help :-)

    From Claudia: Thanks, GoddessFish, for transmitting my responses while I’m having tech problems. I am able to read all comments, though, so first, thanks to Read Your Writes for featuring my book, and so beautifully. To Marcy, Marcia and Rita, I’m most grateful for your kind words. Really appreciated!

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  6. Great excerpt and giveaway. :)

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  7. This sounds like a great Art History Mystery read. I like the cover and excerpt.

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  8. Sounds like a book that I would enjoy.

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  9. From the author, who's having trouble commenting: "To Cali W., Susan1215, Sherry and Bridgett Wilbur, I appreciate you stopping by and for your kind words."

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  10. I haven't read anything by this artist yet. I will have to put her on my book list on Amazon

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  11. Art History Mystery - what an interesting genre!
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  12. Thanks for such insightful review and looking forward to engaging in the character of Olivia's journey!

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  13. Looking forward to reading the journey of Erika and Harrison!

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  14. I love the colorful cover. It caught my eye.

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  15. Do you have any tips for writers block?

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  16. Do you prefer mountains or beaches?

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  17. Do you ever write in more than one genre?

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  18. What is your advice for new writers?

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  19. What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?

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  20. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

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  21. When did you discover you have the gift of writing?

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  22. Do you have a favorite type of food?

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  23. If your book had a theme song what would it be?

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  24. Where do you get your ideas for writing?

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  25. Do you prefer hot or cold weather?

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  26. Do you have a favorite time to do your writing?

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  27. What challenges did you face while writing this book?

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  28. Do you have a favorite holiday?

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  29. Here's to a wonderful weekend!

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  30. Do you have a favorite movie?

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  31. How long did it take to write this book?

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  32. What inspired you to become a writer?

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  33. What's something you are passionate about?

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  34. Do you have a favorite way to spend your free time?

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  35. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

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  36. Here's to a wonderful weekend~

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  37. It's wonderful to see people from different places coming together to work towards the return of looted African art. Olivia's discovery of her great-granduncle's journal must be incredibly exciting. I hope they uncover valuable insights from it.

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  38. How do you come up with names for the characters?

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  39. What part of the book was the most fun to write?

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  40. I so enjoyed reading the excerpt- well done!

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  41. Do you have a favorite author and/or genre?

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  42. Hope you are having an amazing August!

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  43. I am adding this book to my to be read soon list!

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  44. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

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  45. Did you ever write a book that made you cry?

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  46. What advice do you have for writers?

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  47. How did you decide on the cover for this book?

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  48. How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

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