Sunday, July 19, 2015

I just finished Julie Hyzy's Grace Cries Uncle--in fact, it caused me to stay up too late and drink an extra glass of wine last night, but it was worth this morning's slight headache. I like Hyzy's books, whether they be about Ollie, the White House chef, or Grace, the curator of Marshfield Manor. The settings of both series are both believable and not, requiring a little willing suspension of disbelief. Really, does the chef at the White House get involved in diplomatic affairs to the point she saves lives? Still, Ollie is likeable, and there's enough food, menu, and food prep stuff to make it seem like a real world.
And Grace? Who gets a job at a place like Marshfield Manor? The building is huge beyond belief--with room for a ballroom large enough for three thousand and a sizeable apartment for owner Bennett Marshfield. And priceless art and artifacts. We can't even begin to guess the extent of Bennett's collection. And yet Grace comes across as someone I'd like to know, and Bennett for all his wealth and property is a kind, fatherly figure--though capable of cunning to see that the good guys win.
In this episode, Grace and Bennett, having learned of a link in family history, submit to DNA testing to see if they are indeed related--the results may well make Grace heir to his vast estate. Bennett has always treated Grace as family, but much hinges on the test results...and the suspense is carried throughout the book.
At the same time Liza, Grace's wayward sister (that's an understatement) turns up on her doorstep, destitute and in need of a place to stay. Reluctantly, Grace takes her in, knowing she can never ever trust Liza. And indeed when suspicious FBI agents and then real ones turn up, it appears Liza is involved in something far more dangerous than she has confessed to Grace. (Regular readers may remember that Liza ran away with Grace's fiancé, Eric, though she now claims she's left him.)
The plot turns on stolen artifacts and antiques of great value, and Grace is always in the middle. While Hyzy's novels usually end with a nail-biting, suspenseful scene, this one is perhaps the tightest I've read--which is why I stayed up so late last night.
Heartily recommended for cozy readers.

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