When Erich Breul was alive in the late 1800's and early 1900's he and his wife collected new artwork and hung it in his home. His son started the same collection habit but was killed before he was 22. Breul's wife died shortly thereafter. When Breul died, he left his home and his artwork to New York City as a historical museum. The Erich Breul House is now a Victorian home and art museum, declining in attendance and interest.
Oscar Nauman is a noted abstract painter. He is invited to a party at the Breul House just before Christmas. He takes Sigrid Harald with him where she meets the trustees of the museum. They are hoping to revive interest in their museum by hosting a Nauman retrospective. The next morning Harald needs to return to the Breul House in her official capacity. She is a homicide detective for the New York Police. One of the museum's trustees has been found dead at the bottom of a set of treacherous stairs. The police quickly realize the body was moved after the man had died. Where was he killed? Why? And most importantly, who whacked the man in the back of his head?
Sigrid Harald is an interesting detective to follow. She was uncomfortable with herself and all business before she met Oscar Nauman. By this book, Corpus Christmas, she is now having to mix her personal life with her business life. Margaret Maron takes Harald's life a little further while giving a good mystery as well. The characters are a bit flat but still interesting. The art intrigue adds an extra dimension of "what if?".
There is a side story as well concerning bodies of babies who were stashed in an old house in the 1940's or so. Between the two storylines American cultural history is considered and the effects that that linger even as attitudes change.
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These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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