Aging antiques dealer Arthur Crockleford has every reason to suspect someone is out to get him. When the worst happens and he is murdered in his shop late one night, it’s left to his best friend Carole and her niece Freya to follow his cryptic clues and uncover the truth.

Freya and Arthur have history: Twenty years ago she was his protégé and colleague in the often shady world of antiques hunting. They were commissioned by owners or insurers to find and return valuable pieces that had been lost or stolen. Then something happened in Cairo and it all fell apart. Now Freya must put those skills to good use to track down Arthur’s killer and solve the mystery surrounding his murder.

At its heart, THE ANTIQUE HUNTER’S GUIDE TO MURDER is a standard ‘cosy crime’ whodunit complete with the often requisite picturesque thatched villages and crumbling country manor houses. There’s also the back-story of what happened all those years ago in Cairo and a more recent back-story of Freya’s failed marriage. 

Freya and Carole are well-drawn as an amateur sleuthing duo in the great tradition of Tommy and Tuppence or Rosemary and Thyme. Forty-something Freya is somewhat battered by life and more cautious than her glamorous and gregarious Aunt Carole. Together, they bring out the best in one another. And yes, this is unashamedly ‘cosy crime’ with a gentle and nostalgic view of life. There’s no sex, no bad language, and nothing to upset the reader.

The writing is underpinned by a rich depth of knowledge about the antiques business that resonates throughout the book. Author CL (Cara) Miller is the daughter of Judith Miller, co-founder of the Miller’s Antiques Price Guide, a regular expert on TV’s Antiques Roadshow, and a prolific writer with over one hundred books on interiors and antiques to her name. 

So CL Miller has good bones for writing a novel about the antiques business and has created a pair of likely, and likeable, leading ladies. At 350 pages, it’s a little too long to sustain the storyline – there’s too much extraneous detail to keep up the pace and build the tension. But this is a debut novel, and the first in a new ‘cosy crime’ series, so perhaps she felt the need for all that detailed backgrounding and scene-setting. The second novel in the series, The Antique Hunter’s Death on the Red Sea, is already on its way. 

Miller is very much a bright new voice in this popular genre. If you’re a fan of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series, have a penchant for Miss Marple, or still watch Lovejoy re-runs, I think you’ll definitely enjoy getting to know Freya and Carole.   

Published by Pan Macmillan Australia, rrp $34.99 ISBN 9781035021819.



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