01 October 2010

Just finished reading...

Fundraising the Dead by Sheila Connolly.*

The first book in a new series introduces us to Eleanor (Nell) Pratt, Director of Development for the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia. Nell's fancy title just means that she's in charge of fundraising for the non-profit organization.

On the morning of the gala celebration of the Society's 125th anniversary, Nell is visited by Marty Terwilliger, who voices her concerns that items from her family's Collection have disappeared. Surprised that Marty chose to confide in her rather than the Society's librarian or collections manager (as well as a little annoyed by her timing), Marty placates her by promising to meet with her the following day.

Nell checks with the Alfred Findley, in charge of cataloguing and recording the collections, who admits that he'd noticed a few items "not where they were supposed to be". Although he had reported the discrepancies to Latoya Anderson, the vice president of collections, she had also assumed that the items were merely misplaced, a reasonable deduction considering the volume of uncatalogued materials they had.

The next morning, Nell arrives at the Society early, to prepare for the usual "morning-after" staff meeting, and discovers Alfred's body in the stacks. The initial conclusion is that he'd fallen from a high stool and hit his head on the edge of the metal shelving unit. Nell is content with that until she finds a list of missing items that Alfred left on her desk, realizes that all of them would be valuable to certain collectors, and decides to do a little investigating on her own.

Library/museum/archive mysteries seem to be popping up a lot recently, and this is one of the better ones. Nell is intelligent and behaves prudently. She checks her sources, doesn't jump to conclusions, and doesn't enter recklessly into dangerous situations. There's even a little comedy in the way that she and Marty attempt to entrap their suspect.

Connolly has come up with a great team in Nell and Marty, I look forward to getting to know them better.

*Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


  1. Thank you for saying such nice things about Fundraising the Dead! The fact that I kind of lived the whole thing (not a body, but definitely the theft) helps give it a certain authentic flavor. And, yes, the FBI was involved, although the agent was quite as appealing as James Morrison.

  2. You're very welcome, Sheila!


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