Thursday, January 9, 2014

{Review} THE RAVENHOE CAULDRON by Rebecca Yount

File Size: 673 KB
Page Count: 401
Copyright: June 30, 2013
Publisher: Independent Publisher; 1st Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

The garotted corpse of a notorious antiquities thief and forger is discovered in an excavation pit at an archeological site near Colchester, on England's east coast. Despite being on parental leave to care for his four-month-old daughter, Detective Inspector Michael "Mick" Chandra is put in charge of the case, his family leave suspended by New Scotland Yard's commissioner.

The victim is identified as Stanislaw Janus, a former curator of pre-Roman British artifacts at the British Museum, who turned to crime by fencing his forgeries on the international antiquities black market. Prior to the murder, Janus had engineered the theft of the priceless Ravenhoe Cauldron from the Colchester Museum,. The nearly 2,000-year-old solid gold vessel had been unearthed by archeologists in the very pit where Janus' corpse was later dumped.

Mick must find Janus' murderer as well as locate the missing cauldron, but his task will not be easy. Interpol reveals that Janus assumed multiple identities and remained out of reach of law enforcement agencies. Nathaniel Wyatt, his former colleague at the British Museum, descricribes Janus as the "Steppenwolf" -- charming one minute, vicious the next. Mick calls upon he Yard's Arts and Antiquities Unit for help in this complex case.

As it turns out, he will need all the help he can get, as the case becomes increasingly fraught with danger and risk.

A diverse cast of characters illuminates and obscures Stanislaw Janus' past: Dr. Cassandra Palmer, Chief Curator of the Colchester Museum, who had known Janus for more than a decade; Dr. Gil Matcalf, director of the archeological dig, who openly disdains Janus; Alissa Woo, Metcalf's beautiful graduate assistant, who originally discovered the caludron at the Colchester sitre; Nathaniel Wyatt, Janus' former collesgue; and Anderson Peale III, noted wealthy collector of Celtic artifacts, who may not be as reputable as he seems.

Familiar faces from the two previous Mick Chandra books return as well: Jessica Beaumont, the American-born pianist who is now Mick's wife; Mick's friend and chief informant, Jamie Geller; and Mick's no-nonsense partner, Sergeant Elizabeth Chang.

The plot of The Ravenhoe Cauldron takes many u-turns and detours, often landing Mick and Elizabeth back to square one and exposing them to danger.

And what is the meaning of the mysterious rust-encrusted key sent through Mick's home mail slot bearing a note that reads: "The key to the Ravenhoe Cauldron?"

Kathy's Review:

This is the third Mick Chandra mystery that I’ve read, and I have enjoyed all of them. While I don’t think you need to read the first two to enjoy this one, it might help to understand the characters of Mick and Jessica more. In the first novel, the relationship between Mick and Jess is the focus. In the second, they are newlyweds. In this book they now have an infant daughter, Sarabeth, and gain another addition to the family in cat, Pickles (who joins faithful dog Nessie). In getting to know this family, it deepened my appreciation for the characters in each installment of the book.

In Ravenhoe, a notorious art forger is murdered and a priceless artifact is missing – and Mick Chandra is put on the case. As he investigates, a long list of suspects is revealed, and someone is trying their best to keep Mick off their tail. Who is guilty? Is more than one murderer on the loose? As the body count rises, Mick must work to uncover the mystery behind the Ravenhoe Cauldron.

I am impressed with Ms. Yount’s research in this novel. It is obvious she did her homework about art forgery and fakebusting. And again, this installment just made Mick and his wife, as well as friend Jaime Geller and Mick’s partner, Elizabeth, more endearing. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and well-written series of mysteries and as always, I look forward to Mick’s next case. If you haven’t already read the first two books in the series, A Death in C Minor and The Erlking, do yourself a favor and pick up all three.

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author's publicist in exchange for an honest review.

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