Blue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell

 

SuspenseRomanceBlue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell

Blue Smoke and Murder
Ann Maxwell;
William Morrow 2008
WorldCat

After her great aunt died, Jill Breck inherited the old property in Arizona. Jill takes time off from her job and passion, white water rafting on the Colorado River. The property is run down. The main house burned down when her aunt died – blamed on the old wood stove. She goes to one of the few outbuildings. There she finds a note from Modesty. Following the clue, she finds some excellent paintings hidden away. They appear to be Dunston’s. If so, they’re worth quite a bit. He was a famous Western painter who was erratic in his work and whose output is limited.

Jill sends out some jpegs of the paintings she has. Her aunt had sent one off for appraisal shortly before her death and the painting “disappeared”. It was appraised as a fake and not worth anything but was lost in transit. Jill doesn’t want to take that chance. But when approached by a possible buyer, Jill is careful. When she receives a death threat and her car is torn apart, she calls in a debt from St. Kilda’s Consulting.

Zach Balfour is not happy about having to babysit another woman. He was supposed to be on vacation, not watching another party girl. But when the big bosses call you in, you go. After he meets Jill, it isn’t so bad. She’s not what he expected. He recognizes good art. That’s what she has. They may not be signed, but they look like Dunston’s. Someone really could be trying to kill her. Now the two of them have to get the paintings authenticated and prove their provenance. They also have to deal with the attraction they feel – and keep both of them alive.

Blue Smoke and Murder is a good suspense with the romance thrown in. Elizabeth Lowell examines the field of American Western art and the niche it holds. She also gets digs in at the patriarchal Mormon communities throughout the West, down into northern Arizona. Jill’s family were all independent women and all thought to be crazy by the locals, including the Mormon men who are the law in the local towns and counties. While not the major theme of the novel, that thread winds throughout.

This is a romantic suspense, so there is the relationship between Jill and Zach that builds throughout. It is satisfying, and is well entwined with an entertaining mystery and education about the world of Western art.

Notice: Strong sexual content

More books by Elizabeth Lowell

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