I recently spent a delightful cross-country flight rummaging through the dusty attic of a crumbling Virginia mansion with antiques appraiser Sterling Glass. Of course, it was all in the pages of The Big Steal, the second volume in Emyl Jenkins’ Sterling Glass mystery series, but I really felt as if I’d spent the evening with an old friend. Jenkins’ has peopled her mysteries with a deftly-drawn cast of characters who are growing, developing, and becoming more interesting as the series moves forward.
Sterling said “yes” a bit too quickly when asked to do an appraisal in Orange County. Instead of finding herself in sunny Southern California, she ended up in rural Virginia, dealing with an overly possessive curator, the varying agendas of a board of directors, and an enormous collection of antiques that isn’t entirely what it seems. Add a secret room, hidden diary, and a generous dash of suspense, and you can see why I didn’t want the plane to land before I finished the book!
Jenkins’ experience as an antiques appraiser lends depth and credibility to Sterling’s experiences. Each chapter opens with a newspaper-column-style question and answer about a specific antique, from Stafforshire spaniels to slipper chairs, that provides context and helps to orient the reader in the antiques world. If you’re a fan of Antiques Road Show or This Old House, Sterling Glass is the Miss Marple you’ve been waiting for!
**Saturday 7/20/09: Author Emyl Jenkins will be at Simple Pleasures, 10180 Lake Ridge Parkway, Ashland, VA for a book talk and signing. I plan to be there, and hope you will too!