Hired to assess the value of broken and missing antiques following a suspicious burglary at a Virginia manor house, intrepid appraiser and amateur sleuth Sterling Glass finds that her job is more complicated than shed anticipated. The antiques, she realizes, are not always what they seem: some are worth tens of thousands, others are well-done replicas.
Whether the well-traveled and well-heeled couple who once owned Wynderly could have been trafficking in fakes is what Sterling must unravel from the secret rooms, hidden treasures, uncovered diaries, and convoluted trail of paperwork and provenance. As our sharp-witted heroine sifts through details doled out by the museum's curators, board members, and the town's local residents, she discovers that objects, unlike people, do not lie.
The Big Steal is a delightful mystery that enhances readers' antiques acumen and provides an easy guide to identifying the most popular styles and periods in an illustrated appendix.
Dear Antiques Expert: My family has always prized a green and yellow pottery Tang horse given to our grandfather by an official of the Indonesian government in the 1950s. Could it really be valuable, or is its worth just a family myth?
Ever since grave robbers and archaeologists began unearthing the colorful pottery horses buried in the tombs of imperial rulers and wealthy Chinese during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), collectors have coveted them. But reproduction Tang horses have also been around for generations. Though an expert will have to determine your horse's age and origin, if it is authentic and in good condition, then its value could be many thousands of dollars. In 2003, a pair of extraordinarily rare Tang horses sold for $1.57 million.
There I was, shivering from head to toe, searching for family pictures and records left behind by Mazie and Hoyt Wyndfield. They hadn't had any children of their own to sort through their things after their deaths several years ...
Although we don't know whether or not protagonist Sterling Glass is a "traditionally built" woman, she does possess much of the same type of homespun, parent-inspired wit and wisdom of Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Precious Ramotswe... This generates an irresistible charm and adds depth to a character that becomes frosting on the cake of what I would call an engaging American parlor mystery.
(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Full Review (543 words).
Jenkins' crackerjack antiques appraiser Sterling Glass unlocks a veritable Pandora's Box when she commences to open doors and snoop around the secret rooms and passageways of Wynderly. She quite literally uncovers ancient family secrets that might be best left unexposed to the harsh light of judgment. The problem is, however, many of the secrets directly affect the cash value of an estate that is on the verge of bankruptcy and whose solvency plays a pivotal role in the lives of several people.
Unfortunately, in an effort to conceal past sins, misdemeanors and maybe even felonies, a proper comprehensive personal property appraisal had never been conducted after the last remaining heir had passed away. The burglary ...
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