Publication Date: June 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Sharon Pape on the WEB: website, blog
Excerpt from To Sketch a Thief
Former police sketch artist Rory McCain never needed a partner to create a likeness of a suspect. But now, working as a sleuth, she's got a partner who's been dead for over a century...
Ghosts are supposed to be frightening, not exasperating. But Federal Marshal Ezekiel Drummond, aka Zeke, is one spirit who seems to specialize in fraying Rory's nerves. Although it helps to have a lawman as part of her private detective business -- even one who was shot in 1878 -- Rory often wishes she had a silent partner, instead of a dead one.
After a stray dog named Hobo leads Rory back to his murdered owner's corpse, she finds herself involved in another homicide case -- not to mention the new owner of a lovable pooch. Unfortunately the spirit who haunts her house doesn't get along with dogs. Despite this bone of contention, Rory, Zeke, and Hobo are soon on the trail of some deadly dognappers and a missing Maltese...
A cozy mystery with a touch of the paranormal! Sharon Pape's latest book in the Portrait of Crime mystery series, To Sketch a Thief is a cross been a great whodunit and a paranormal mystery. Readers who love both genre's will be thrilled with this pairing. Pape's protagonist Rory McCain is a former police sketch artist who happens to live with the ghost of a 19th century US Marshal. Pape's ability to create complex characters and well thought out mysteries will have fans roaring for more. A great read for a relaxing afternoon!
Former police sketch artist Rory McClain inherited more than just a house from her Uncle Mac. The house comes with a ghost. The ghost of Marshal Ezekiel Drummand, who was shot on the property in 1878. In exchange for Rory using her experts to help Zeke solve his own murder, Zeke will help Rory solve cases for her private investigations business. It's an unlikely duo that causes sparks to fly on a daily basis, but these two PI's have got each others back. When Rory finds an abandoned dog named Hobo, with an address tag, she takes him home only to find the door ajar and his owner murdered. It turns out the owners other dog, a Maltese is missing along with several other dogs in the neighborhood. Rory is hired to find the kidnapped dogs, but she may end up finding a murderer as well.
Sharon Pape has created a great new cozy series with a paranormal twist. To Sketch a Thief is the second book in the Portrait of Crime series and Rory and her supernatural partner are once again thrown into the middle of a difficult case. Pape is playing on the popularity of both the cozy mystery sub-genre and the paranormal craze that has swept the reading populous. By combining the two she has opened up this series to a much wider audience. This book has a lot to offer many different kinds of readers. You have those readers who love cozies, of which I am one, you have the paranormal lovers, which I am also, but you can also add in artists, dog lovers and animal enthusiasts. I see a lot of potential with this series and I think readers will really enjoy Pape's take on help from beyond.
Rory is a very good protagonist. She has two interesting professions to her credit, both police sketch artist and private investigator. She is determined to prove herself and she comes across as very intelligent and warm. Though we don't see her use her skills as an artist as much as I would have liked, this adds a very interesting depth to her character. Artists are generally people who tend to see things that others miss, they are more observant and able to tie things together that some people wouldn't even consider. I think that helps her in her career as a PI.
One of the most interesting aspects of her personality seems to come out when shes interacting with Zeke, her partner who just happens to be a ghost. It's easy to see that she believes in Zeke, she uses his advice, even the advice she doesn't want to hear sometimes, but there is still that part of her that wants to solve his murder so he will go away. She doesn't want to appear strange to her family or anyone else, she's hesitant where he's concerned and even a bit whiny at times, but I think readers will understand her sentiments, would you want to have people over to your house and introduce them to your resident ghost? LOL...
Zeke is easily my favorite character in this series. There are so many things to love about him. He is quirky and a little eccentric which I would guess is normal for someone who lived in the last century. I enjoyed the parts of the book that delved into Zeke's past and will probably eventually lead to solving his murder. The reader will find themselves almost wishing that Rory doesn't solve the case because that might mean that Zeke is history, literally. But, I think Pape is on to something with this supernatural character. I don't think she will be quick in providing the answers to Zeke's case or perhaps he will hold off crossing over in favor of helping Rory a little longer. Fans are sure to fall in love with Zeke's inability to understand today's slang and his interfering ways.
The supporting cast in this one really adds to overall atmosphere of the book. From Hobo the dog, who becomes Rory's latest housemate, to her Aunt Helene, Pape has created characters that are funny and endearing. The relationship between Hobo and Zeke is very comical to read and ends up one where they share a deeper understanding of each other. I thought Pape was clever to use the idea that animals are supposedly a lot more susceptible to the supernatural to her advantage. Aunt Helene is just a delight to read. How many people have that one older lady in the family who just can't seem to keep her nose out of your business? That's Aunt Helene in a nutshell. She loves to get down and dirty with Rory's cases and adds a lot of flavor to the story. Readers are sure to love her.
The mystery aspect of the book is well thought out, though maybe a little improbable. I'm not sure that all readers will buy the idea of dognapping as a motive for murder, but if you've ever watched the Westminster Dog Show or tried to buy a registered dog from a breeder, you will quickly find out that some of dogs are worth thousands of dollars. I think readers will be quick to understand that this wasn't just any pooch you might find at the pound and let's face it people are sometimes murdered for a lot less. Pape keeps readers guessing all throughout the book. There's a lot going on here, Hobo's owner's murder, Zeke's murder, and the missing dogs. Keeping it all straight might sound difficult but it all works really well together. Pape puts in enough twists and turns to keep you guessing all the way to the end.
I thought Pape did an excellent job with this book and I'm looking forward to reading more from this series. I recommend this one to a wide range of readers from cozy fans to paranormal junkies. Those who love animals to those who love art, there's something here for just about everyone. The premise of the mystery may seem a little far fetched, dognapping as a motive for murder? But I think readers will agree that the impossible or improbable is usually why we like to read...
To Sketch a Thief is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Sharon Pape is the author of four previous novels. She lives on Long Island with her family.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of To Sketch a Thief to one winner from Debbie's Book Bag.
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