When auctioneer Wren Morgan begins cataloging the contents of the Campbell mansion, she's unprepared to find something that can't be appraised - a dead man. After the body turns out to be a criminal with ties to a recent jewel heist, Wren comes face-to-face with Death Bogart. A private eye and part-time bounty hunter, Death is searching for the stolen jewels needed to convict a murderer.
Death finds a friend and willing ally in Wren, but they aren't the only ones searching for treasure. Two ruthless men are also on the hunt, and they will do anything to eliminate the competition. To survive, Death and Wren must solve two mysteries spanning a century and a half and outwit a pair of cold-blooded killers.
Series: Auction Block Mysteries #1| Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Amanda Ronconi | Length: 7 hours 19 minutes | Genre: Cozy Contemporary Mystery | Source: Audible | Ratings: Performance 4.5 Cups Story 4 Cups
Missing Civil War era jewels, a jewel heist, a string of murders, and a handsome and clever Marine-turned-private-eye, how could I not love this book?
Here’s what’s going on. When Wren stumbles upon a naked dead guy while cataloging the Campbell mansion for Keystone and Sons Auction House, she never imagined it would lead her straight to Death (pronounced Deeth) Bogart, a Marine turned private eye/bounty hunter who is searching for a set of stolen jewels that will convict a murderer. Deciding to work together, Wren and Death soon find themselves growing closer as they try to crack a mystery from the Civil War. Although first they must survive a pair of murderers hot on their trail.
I really enjoyed Wren. She’s quirky, determined, collects unique objects, seems fun to be around, and she uses an atlatl (a spear thrower) on the baddie. She’s also realistically flawed, which I really enjoyed. She’s had a few problems in the past that were addressed but I feel like there’s still a lot more to be learned about her. Death totally rocks. He’s a Marine that’s been medically discharged so he’s turned Private Eye/bounty hunter. There’s a lot that Death’s dealing with personally. He’s struggling with not being able to physically do what he used to because of the injuries he sustained during combat, he’s dealing with his ex-wife who cheated on him, and the fact that his family died while he was overseas. He doesn’t allow those things to bring him down and I loved watching him use his mind rather than his strength to accomplish tasks.
While I thought that Death and Wren were amazing together and had great chemistry, their relationship lacked the developmental stage. It went from them meeting to them suddenly entering into a relationship where they lived together with nothing in between. It never felt forced or fake, just lacking. I could understand the instant relationship if they had previously known each other but they didn’t so a little getting to know each other would have been nice.
The mystery aspect really intrigued me. Given that this was a cozy mystery and the first thing that’s mentioned in the book is Wren finding a dead body, I expected this to be a murder mystery so that fact that it was about two sets of missing jewels was different and exciting. So, this isn’t a whodunit type of cozy but rather a where is it and will they find it type of cozy mystery.
There’s two sets of jewels missing. The first is a set of jewelry from the Civil War era that the mistress of the house hide and the only potential clue to their whereabouts is the ramblings of a dying woman. The second is a more recent set that were part of a jewelry heist. I really enjoyed watching Wren and Death putting the clues together and it was interesting where the jewels actually turned up.
Along with the mystery and the romance, there’s an entire cast of fun and quirky secondary characters in the form of the Keystone family. Although they’re not related to Wren, they look out for as though she’s family and they were quick to accept Death as well.
While the mystery of jewels is tied up, this book ends with the start of a mystery pertaining to the death of Death’s brother Randy and I’m eager to see how that goes.
What drew me to this book was the fact Amanda Ronconi narrated it. Like always, she did a brilliant job bringing the characters to life. She truly knows how to put heart and soul into what she’s narrating.
Overall, other than the instant relationship between Death and Wren, this book was a brilliant start to a cozy mystery series. The pacing is brilliant and there’s no information dump bogging down the plot. I can’t wait to read more of this series.
The Auction Block Mystery Series
#1—Death and the Redheaded Woman
#3—Death and the Gravedigger’s Angel