Thursday, May 19, 2016

Radine Trees Nehring Presents Portrait to Die For With Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as Setting

Carrie's shift in the library ended at 2:30 and, since her car was in the Compton Gardens*  parkng lot, she left the museum by the south entrance and hiked along the trail toward Compton Gardens, enjoying the sunny and surprisingly warm February day.
Passing Robert Indiana's huge LOVE sculpture on the Museum's south lawn, she thought of Henry, and wondered what he was doing. Working in his garden, probably. Knowing she often made side trips, he wouldn't worry if she was late returning from she sjift. She could take time to sit for a while in The Way of Color Skyspace* at the side of the main trail. She enjoyed relaxing on a bench
inside the large domed room open to the sky, and at the this time of day it was usually unoccupied and peaceful--a good place for thought and prayer if the weather was warm.
But it wasn't peaceful now. As Carrie approached James Turrell's massive stone, concrete, and stainless steel installation, she heard a male voice, though she couldn't yet hear what was being said. The speaker sounded agitated, but he was obviously trying to keep his voice low. Odd place for an argument, since walkers and joggers used the museum trails all day long.
What now? Forge ahead and interrupt the conversation, which she, as someone enjoying the trail, had every right to do? Or, should she simply leave the area?
The issue was decided for her when the male voice said, very clearly, "You know what to do. Take care of it."
A female voice Carrie recognized answered, "Yes. We need to protect Port View," and Grace Gould rushed out of the structure, heading--thank goodness--not toward Carrie, but in the opposite direction.
Well! What was that all about?
Carrie wondered if the man was the runner from that morning. She hadn't recognized his voice, and didn't want a confrontation, so, she turned and hureried down the art Trail toward her car.

Portrait to Die For

By Radine Trees Nehring

Has someone switched versions of the twins' portrait in a loan exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American?

Added Just Because I Love the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright!

This is my first reading for Nehring, but I'm certainly glad I found her "to Die for" cozy series. I find I cannot always judge well about what an author might consider a spoiler for their book...For instance, this author chose to indicate on the cover that art work may have been stolen. For me, that turned a cozy mystery into more of a whodunit, which I also enjoy reading! There is a humorous twist to the amateur investigator, in this case, Carrie McCrite, who volunteers at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Both Carrie and Henry, a former police officer, are retired and they've both gotten involved in earlier cases, which proved to be dangerous. This book begins by Henry laying down the law!

"You've got to stop getting us involved in criminal activities."
Henry's words barely made a dent in her study of jewelry ads in Sunday's New York Times. She tried to picture a woman who could spend thousands to wear this stuff.
"Carrie, please listen."
"I am hearing what you say, dear. Stay away from crimes...
When he spoke again, his voice sounded peculiar, the words too sharp, so she looked up as he said, "I guess I wasn't clear. We must stay away from all people involved in criminal activity, or even in what seems like, as you put it, deep trouble. Think back. Since I met you, you've been shot at more than once, nearly boiled alive at Hot Springs National Park, wounded in a bomb blast..."

Henry went over every time she'd been in danger and the discussion was not friendly but not an angry one with Carrie one time thinking, At least he admits it's by the grace of God that I wasn't killed or even badly hurt. He must understand. He must...

So what is a woman to do? These things just keep falling into her life--it's not as if she goes out and hunts for cases.  Take the incident this morning when a female jogger was being followed and ask Carrie to tell the stranger, if he asked, that she had gone another way than the one she really had taken... Well, naturally Carrie had to help, right?

And was it her fault that, in leaving the Museum later that day she accidentally heard a suspicious conversation between that same woman and another man...she couldn't be sure whether it was a different man from that morning.

"I am sure our director would agree with
 me that it isn't helpful to display our
feature painting in this context. May I
request a change to something more
appropriate and not so well known?"
...Not show the twins? Huh! The woman
is supposed to be brilliant, but I say she
doesn't know what she's talking about
when it comes to our display...
substituted for "Twins with Daisies"
Anyway, how was she to know that just by going to work, she would see that same woman coming into the Library--and she was a special guest involved with the latest display! She was discussing a painting which the Library staff had chosen to highlight the exhibit at the entrance--"Twins with Daisies." Of course Carrie was right there, caught in the exchange that led to the woman, Grace, telling the staff that she didn't think their selection/idea was a good one!

And was it Carrie's fault that she noticed a clue immediately...

No, she couldn't be faulted...but Henry was adamant that she stay out of what was appearing to have become a mystery to be solved...

Nehring adds a great element of humor as Carrie tries to respond to her husbands wishes...And then to have their son change all that because an old friend of his. Maylynn Brewer, has disappeared and wants to help find her. As they did a little checking, it was discovered that Brewer might have some connection to the mystery of the paintings...

Another character addition, that of a country couple, but friends of Carrie, get involved and begin to learn about art appreciation as part of the mystery solving. The story is definitely character-driven rather than a major mystery, but still, readers will not be totally sure of exactly who and what was happening until closer to the end. I found that the switch to the struggling wife versus struggling amateur detective created quite of bit of enjoyment of the story for me.

I enjoyed the ending given the plot setup among characters that was established upfront...and, yes, there was danger before the ending... You'll enjoy how that all works out...

All in all, a fun, enjoyable setting, and characters that made it triple trouble before it all finished...Highly recommend--and for those interested, there's a touch of "God" involvement that adds to the depth of thought-processes for the amateur investigators... Get your tea or coffee, a few crackers or cookies...and sit down to relax with a good book!

#pictures may not all be correct for setting

My writing career (non-fiction) began when I was old enough to join AARP, and didn't expand into fiction writing for a number of years after that. Yes, a journalism and feature writing career was satisfying, even fun. It was great to see my work in print and know others were reading what I had researched and shared in published articles and a non-fiction book, DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow, as well as a broadcast journalist. But then I thought, hmmm, I love reading mysteries, could I write one? Why not try? Well . . . fiction writing turned out to be the most fun of all.

People often ask me where Carrie McCrite and Henry King came from. Truth is, they just "came," like friends newly introduced. I got to know both of them better as I wrote their stories until, now that novel number seven is here, (A FAIR to Die For) I feel very close to both of them. Sure, I live in a make-believe world while I'm writing, but that's true of most, if not all, fiction writers. If I don't feel the emotions my characters are experiencing, how can I expect readers to?

I'm grateful to say my writing has earned recognition and a number of awards because that, along with reader-fans who write me, affirms that I am accomplishing something worth while. Isn't that, after all, our goal in life, no matter what avenue we use to accomplish it? 

I firmly believe those who have been here on earth for a spell have a wealth of observations and ideas to draw on for their writing. And, the longer we live, the more of this wealth we have to share. As for research necessary to write about Carrie and Henry's adventures? Well, who could ask for more fun? Friendships made with "research assistants" at each location are a huge plus that I hadn't expected at start-up. Friendships with readers, met in person and on the Internet, are another valued plus. 

My second career as a writer has turned out to be "To Die For!" (Used in the positive sense, of course) and it's something everyone can enjoy along with me as they read my novels. So, welcome to the adventure!

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