by: Claudia Riess
Series: Art History 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.
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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.
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