Death Is a Cabaret
Deborah Morgan
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Buy *Death Is a Cabaret* online Death Is a Cabaret

Deborah Morgan
Berkley Prime Crime
240 pages
November 2001
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

Jeff Talbot was once a desk jockey for the FBI. Now he jockeys a pristine 1948 Chevy woodie over the highways and byways of Seattle in search of antiques. As a professional picker, Jeff's job is to find and buy unusual items, then resell them to Blanche Appeby, owner of All Things Old, the city's largest antique shop. Blanche is not only a sharp businesswoman but also a lady with a dream. Her family had once owned a priceless cabaret set, a porcelain coffee server originally purchased by Napoleon for his wife, the Empress Josephine. The set had been sold soon after the death of Blanche's mother, and Blanche has been searching for it ever since. Unknown to her, the cabaret set is up for auction at the Annual Antiques Festival on Michigan's Mackinac Island. Jeff Talbot will be attending the Festival held at the island's Grand Hotel, and come hell or high water, he intends to get the set back for Blanche.

But Jeff isn't the only one after the Napoleonic treasure. Frank Hamilton, an obnoxious picker and Talbot's main competitor in the trade, shows up at the Festival as well. Jeff knows that Hamilton's presence means trouble, but he doesn't realize how much trouble until his rival turns up dead in the hotel's fountain. The murder casts a pall over the proceedings, and Jeff finds himself wondering who hated Frank enough to kill him. When a second death occurs on the island, Jeff is drawn deeper into the investigation by Mackinac Detective Cal Brookner. He quickly turns to his wife for help when he discovers a possible clue. An agoraphobic, Sheila Talbot no longer ventures outside her Seattle home, but she's an expert at surfing the Internet. While Sheila researches the clue on her computer, Jeff delves into the personal lives of the other auction attendees in hopes of discovering a motive for the killings. What he eventually learns comes as a surprise to both Jeff and the reader.

Proving that old hatreds are the worst kind, Deborah Morgan brews a tale of deceit amid grandeur as she introduces readers to the intriguing world of antique collecting in Death Is A Cabaret. Jeff and Sheila Talbot are refreshingly different characters with a unique perspective on the institute of marriage. Their ability to accept and deal with the limitations imposed on them by Sheila's illness strengthens their relationship and gives readers a pair of protagonists worth emulating. Morgan's descriptions of Mackinac and the Grand Hotel are equally pleasing for those who have visited the island and those who only dream of doing so. The author's knowledge of antiques is evident in the book, and as an added plus, she ends her story with "Recommendations from Jeff Talbot", a brief epilogue offering books of interest to antique collectors, coffee lovers, and fan of the cinema. Sheila's webliography is also included in this chapter.

Death Is A Cabaret is a satisfying first novel that whets the reader's appetite for more Jeff Talbot adventures. Hopefully we won't have to wait long for another mystery by the talented Deborah Morgan.

© 2002 by Mary V. Welk for Curled Up With a Good Book

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