ELAINE FLINN – Dealing in Murder. Avon, paperback original, 2003.

   After her cheating husband involved her successful (and very upscale) antiques store in a criminal scam, Elaine Flinn’s protagonist fled to Carmel, California. Cleared of complicity but with her reputation still tarnished, Porter has set up amodest business in a shop in Carmel that a long-time friend has made available to her and adopted the name “Molly Doyle.”

   She quickly demonstrates a a penchant for being present at murder scenes and has not only to work to keep her young business afloat but solve crimes for which she’s clearly a prime suspect. As an added inducement to another category of readers among whom I count myself, there’s an art connection involving a cache of rolled-up canvases in a style Flinn characterizes as “early California.”

   These are more appealing to Molly than some of the stock she’s peddling in reduced circumstances but they also turn out to make her situation more dangerous and put her in direct conflict with the relentless killer.

   She’s a high-end snob but compensates for this with a sharp intelligence and impressive body of knowledge about the antiques business that makes her very likable and interesting. This is a first novel by a long-time San Francisco antiques dealer. I would recommend it to any reader of mysteries with the slightest interest in collecting.

      The Molly Doyle series —

1. Dealing in Murder (2003).   Nominated for an Agatha, Gumshoe, Barry and Anthony.
2. Tagged for Murder (2004).   Barry Award: Best Paperback Original. (2005).

3. Deadly Collection (2005).
4. Deadly Vintage (2007).

Editorial Note: Sad to say, Elaine Flinn died of pneumonia and cancer in September 2008.