Grace Cries Uncle
Manor House Mystery #6
By Julie Hyzy
Author’s Website: juliehyzy.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
When Grace’s estranged sister Liza shows up on her doorstep, the timing couldn’t be worse. Grace’s beloved boss and benefactor, Bennett Marshfield, has finally gotten her to agree to a DNA test to establish if he is, in fact, her uncle. If so, Grace would move from being the trusted curator and manager of Marshfield Manor to Bennett’s heir. And her duplicitous sister would be right behind her in the line of inheritance.
Liza is not the only mysterious visitor to arrive in town. A man claiming to be an FBI agent has shown up, and a swarm of avaricious antique collectors have descended on Emberstowne for a prestigious convention. When Bennett reveals he’s in mind to acquire a secret antique and the FBI agent turns up dead, the plot thickens. And Grace can’t help but wonder if Liza is at the center of it all… (Goodreads)
Grace Cries Uncle is the fantastic sixth installment in the finely crafted Manor House Mystery series. Though firmly planted in the cozy mystery genre, it teeters on crossing over into suspense. The story is action packed from the very beginning and keeps up the pace to the very last sentence. Who would have thought that a museum curator would live such an exciting and dangerous life?
Grace Wheaton never seems to have a dull or spare moment in her position as estate manager and museum curator for the lavish Marshfield Manor, which is owned by septuagenarian Bennett Marshall. The two share a bond through Bennet’s father and Grace’s grandmother’s shared past, and Bennett suspects they are blood relations. This speculation has been a series long question, and Grace has finally yielded to undergo a DNA test to find out once and for all. Regardless of the outcome, she hopes that her relationship with Bennett will not change.
On the morning Grace is to go for the testing, a man claiming to be an FBI agent rings her doorbell and proceeds to ask rather unusual questions that Grace does not have time to answer. Shortly after, this same man is found shot in her neighbors yard and all does not seem as it should. To add to the stress of waiting for the DNA results, Grace is dumbfounded when her estranged sister Liza appears at her office. Trouble follows Liza wherever she goes, she rarely tells the truth, and is always out to further hew own interests. After telling Grace that she has left her husband Eric, who just happens to be Grace’s ex-fiancé, and has nowhere else to go, Grace acquiesces and allows Liza to stay at her house. When her doorbell rings twice more with people asking unusual questions, Grace begins to wonder if the murder and other strange happenings are all related to Liza. Or could it all have something to do with the Art and Antiquities Collectors’ Convention that has descended on the town? And why is Bennett not attending the convention and being evasive?
Grace Cries Uncle is full of secrets, subterfuge, intrigue, theft, fraud, betrayal, and the black market. The murder itself seems to take a backseat to all of the other goings on, but it is all tied together. The villain(s) is a little unexpected. I suspected their identity but second guessed myself until they were revealed. There are plenty of plot threads and twists and turns to keep me engaged and hesitant to put the book down.
Grace is surrounded by an eclectic, appealing group of people. Her friends, coworkers, and assumed family are complex, well formed characters who continue to grow with each passing installment. I particularly liked the changes in Frances. She is still a huge busybody, but there are cracks in her crusty façade, and she is quite endearing when she goes all mamma bear to defend Grace. Grace is quite real and likable, mature in actions and thinking even when her sister threatens to get the best of her, and smart. Though she finds herself in some harrowing situations they are generally not of her own making, and she keeps her head about her. Bennett is easy to love, obviously used to the influence and ease that money can provide but also down to earth. His and Grace’s relationship is authentic.
The Manor House Mystery series holds a firm place on my list of favorites, and Grace Cries Uncle is a strong entry in a series that gets better with each installment. It is an entertaining, twisty ride, and I recommend it not only cozy fans but other mystery readers as well.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*