Borderville, straddling the state line between Tennessee and Virginia, is the site of a fourth social-club mystery (after The Sensational Music Club Mystery, 1994) in which Landrum pulls off some nifty plotting. When local society matron Alberta Chamberlain dies, she leaves a Charles Wilson Peale portrait of the then-future French king Louis-Philippe to the Ambrose County Historical Society. A visiting art expert informs Helen Delaporte, Historical Society president, that the painting is a fake. Almost two weeks later, Randy Hartwell, leader of the local art scene, is found stabbed to death in his home after one of his bohemian parties. Randy, it turns out, was living well beyond his income. Unraveling Randy's murder means a look into the past of a man who believed that he was an artistic genius though he had little more than average ability. The investigation is a lark, for the most part, and suspects accommodatingly confess whatever is required of them. Narrated in a first-person relay of amateur sleuths (Helen; her husband, Henry; her friend, Harriet Bushrow), the story consistently maintains the light tone of club women gossiping over tea and sandwiches served with lots of froth and a dash of absurdity. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1996 Release date: 06/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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