cover image The Cruel Ever After: A Jane Lawless Mystery

The Cruel Ever After: A Jane Lawless Mystery

Ellen Hart, Minotaur, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-61476-8

At the start of Hart's delightful 18th mystery starring Minneapolis restaurateur Jane Lawless (after 2009's The Mirror and the Mask), Jane's charismatic ex-husband and antiquities dealer, Chester "Chess" Garrity, wakes up one morning with a hangover outside the house of Melvin Dial, an art collector to whom he'd offered to sell a valuable Iraqi artifact, the Winged Bull of Nimrud, the night before. After finding Dial dead of a knife wound inside the house, Chess flees. When he returns to the crime scene with fellow dealer Irina Nelson, he discovers the body gone and a note clearly addressed to him demanding $50,000 in small bills along with incriminating photos. Arrested for Dial's murder, Chess must turn to Jane, who has more than enough on her plate already, for help. Buttressed by distinctive characters and a splendid Minnesota setting, the well-constructed plot builds to a satisfying conclusion. (Dec.)