A person who impersonates or pretends to be someone in order to deceive others and create a hoax or trick people into believing something that his perpetrator has created. Verity Blackwood becomes the victim of this diabolical person as we hear the voice but there is no face when she’s drugged and left for dead and told she will have to deal with her sins and repent. What exactly does this mean? Verity Blackwood was to meet art restorer Wendell Sharpe to talk about art forgeries but this elusive voice that we hear in the prologue decided to stop her cold, drug her making it look like a drug overdose but was it? Looking up in a gray fog at her attacker she thinks she’s imagining whom she sees. Isn’t this man dead? Wasn’t he killed? Blacking out and left for dead.
Tamara McDermott is a prosecutor whose daughter is about to turn 21. The celebration was planned and the guests arrived and she was a no show why? Tamara had a meeting with Graham Blackwood but who kidnapped her and who left her in a dirty and filthy bathroom drugged?
Emma Sharpe and Colin Murphy are newly married and attended the party for Tamara’s daughter who was upset, angry and unsure of how to feel. Thinking her mother left to take s break earlier than expected, Adalyn was both angry and somewhat worried about where her mother was.
Oliver York our favorite art thief and Henrietta Balfour, gardener by day and M15 when needed, were having a drink in their favorite hotel, when Wendell Sharpe arrives telling them he’s here to meet Verity Blackwood at the hotel but concern ensues when she doesn’t show up. She called Wendell and requested they meet right away, as she was a former exhibit coordinator with the National Gallery in London leaving to marry Graham Blackwood a former diploma and runs his own think tank. Her reason was to talk to Wendell about forgeries at the Claridge’s. Wendell is an art detective. But, something was off and the three managed to find her room and the scene that followed required that Henrietta turn into her M15 mode, do CPR and call for help. Verity was barely alive and now the first part of the mystery is revealed to learn what really caused her overdose and the second would come later when Emma, Colin and the HIT team realize that Tamara is missing. Author Carla Neggers sets tension barometer on high and even though the temperature is hot and might cool down the heat will rise even higher when events collide and the two events merge into one and an unrelated murder might provide the answers.
Concern for Tamara was on the forefront as Emma and Colin meet with Jolie Romero her daughter’s boss and mentor. Trying to piece things together would bring a startling revelation and Wendell was still AWOL.
As we get to learn more about Verity you wonder where Graham is and why he’s gone dark too. The key might be Stefan Petrescu whose death was supposedly a murder and each one linked to Adalyn in some way. Over thinking is what Adalyn does and visiting Lucy at her knitting shop was soothing and calming. But Jolie and Rex who is the son of two famous painters needs her to restore paintings damaged in a fire. As Emma and Colin question him everyone is tense about Verity and the connections are still disconnected. Even Patrick, Adalyn’s father created friction within her and yet he seemed to be concerned for her safety and warned her against talking to law enforcement without a lawyer or him.
Getting readers to be reacquainted with Emma’s father Timmy, her brother Lucas as they run the restoration business for Wendell, we learn more about their roles in the family and they are concerned as to where Wendell wandered off and why? Oliver has not been in touch and our favorite art thief is definitely in the mix because of Verity but why didn’t Graham return to London with her, why did he cancel his reservation and what happened when he meets Tamara?
Finding out the truth about Graham sets Colin and Emma on a quest to find out what happened to him. Emma and Sister Cecilia find his body and his kayak is missing leading them to wonder what is the connection to Verity’s death and did he have something to do with her opioid overdose? Is there a drug ring that no one knows about?
Sister Cecilia is still thinking about the death of Graham and that leads to Mother Natalie who remembers that Verity and Aslyan tried to sneak into the convent and got caught taking them around talking about the convent’s work in art restoration. All roads lead to both the Emma’s father Timothy, her grandfather Wendell who seems to have gone dark and is not that visible at this time plus the fact that there is a question mark about heavier drugs and the pain management that Emma’s father is dealing with. Is someone stealing the opioids? What is the connection to Stefan, the linguist’s death? Are these all related and who is the specter present in the prologue that drugged Verity and that kidnapped Tamara or killed Graham?
Verity is able to finally speak as Oliver and Henrietta learn more about her meeting with Rex, Adalyn, Jolie and Stefan. She and Graham hosted a dinner party where they were all present. Graham bought what he thought was an original Fletcher Campbell painting but Verity wanted the authenticity checked yet Graham thought it a waste of time and money. It was something Stefan said at the party that alerted her to question the painting and wanting to meet with Tamara. Ophelia Campbell was gone and Fletcher was still working on it and Graham picked it up a few weeks before someone was starting to close up his cottage. Fletcher was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Graham got the painting himself. The conversation switches to opiates and how she was drugged but by whom? Wendell was the link to learn the truth about the painting. Graham was concerned about Tamara meddling and then claimed he needed alone time. Questions asked and then Matt Yankowitz the head of HIT, the organization that both Colin and Emma work for or with, is coming to the Campbell farm to protect Adalyn and things heat up as more questions are asked and did Stefan’s comments about the painting send a killer into action? Matt is the head of HIT. Adalyn’s parents are divorced and then her father, Patrick connects with her the conversation is tense yet we know he cares for his daughter in his own way. But, things spiral out of control when the truth about a killer is revealed and the blame is tossed on someone else. Will this killer’s lies be believable? Who is the imposter that has everyone convinced that he/she is being framed? Who would profit from the sales of Fletcher’s paintings?
Shots fired and someone is down and a killer is on the loose. Someone went to great lengths to drug Verity and kill Graham and Stefan but why? Someone planted a seed of doubt to frame someone else. Lives are in danger shots hit their mark and another is in need of help and families need to band together as some clever and filled with greed and wanting power was crafty and pretended but in reality imposters are often found out the lure their victims into false securities and the end result is will the imposter’s lure win? Once again author Carla Neggers creates a multi complex plot that strains the ties that bind the Donavan’s and Murphy families and strengths their allegiances to the limit as Emma, Colin, Kevin and Yankowski place it all on the line to uncover a thief hiding in plain sight.
Some endings create new beginnings and others close some doors as author Carla Neggers brings tears to the eyes of many including this reviewer as Emma faces tragedy and a granddaughter and grandfather find their own unique peace. What’s next for HIT and Emma Colin and Yankowski? Only this outstanding author knows when we revisit Boston, London and Heron’s Cove Maine and Ireland where all the magic happens. With twists, turns and surprises that only author Carla Neggers can deliver Emma learns the true meaning of who her grandfather really is to her and the ending is powerful.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine/MJ network