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Museum #1

Fundraising the Dead

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At The Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques, fundraiser Eleanor "Nell" Pratt solicits donations-and sometimes solves crimes. When a collection of George Washington's letters is lost on the same day that an archivist is found dead, it seems strange that the Society president isn't pushing for an investigation. Nell goes digging herself, and soon uncovers a long, rich history of crime.

324 pages, Paperback

First published September 11, 2010

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About the author

Sheila Connolly

58 books1,317 followers
Sheila Connolly taught art history, structured and marketed municipal bonds for major cities, worked as a staff member on two statewide political campaigns, and served as a fundraiser for several non-profit organizations. She also managed her own consulting company providing genealogical research services.

She was a member of Sisters in Crime-New England (president 2011), the national Sisters in Crime, and the fabulous on-line SinC chapter, the Guppies. She also belonged to Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America.

Sheila was Regent of her local DAR chapter, and a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She was also the grandchild of Irish immigrants. In addition to genealogy, Sheila loved restoring old houses, visiting cemeteries, and traveling.

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5 stars
613 (23%)
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951 (36%)
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786 (29%)
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211 (7%)
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78 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 248 reviews
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews212 followers
March 10, 2015
The Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques is the last place you would expect a dead body. After Nell Pratt, a fund-raiser for the Society, finds their archivist dead, she starts a series of events uncovering things some people would do anything to hide. The most suspicious thing about the death, which the police labels an accident, is that it seems connected to some missing valuable historical documents.

Fundraising the Dead is hardly a mystery since you are told almost right away who the thief is. That, one exceptionally too-stupid-to-live moment near the end and the most anticlimactic resolution I've ever read doesn't do much to recommend this story.
I will probably try another book in the series, but I am not holding my breath.
Profile Image for Nicola.
34 reviews16 followers
April 22, 2011
Fundraising the Dead, this is the first book in the Museum Mystery series and as someone who loves antiques and museums, I was really excited about this book, but I really struggled to get into it. Nell is a fundraiser at the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society and hours before a large event, she is cornered by Marty, a Board Member, who says that part of her family’s legacy is missing. Soon Nell discovers that there is more stuff missing and things get worse when the only other employee who knows about the thefts turns up dead.

I am not sure why this book was such a slow starter, maybe it was the relationship between Nell and Charles (the Society’s Director), who just had baddie written all over him… or it was the long descriptions of meetings which never seemed to lead to anything (yes, I know that it part of the work of a fundraiser, but to repeatedly go over the details – it felt like I was there, and not in a good way). The book started to turn around when Nell, Marty and Jimmy got together to trap the thief, however the culprit was so obvious that he could have been wearing a sash saying ‘I steal stuff to maintain my lavish lifestyle, ask me how’.

What irritated me most was Nell’s character. On one hand she is portrayed as this professional woman with high standards, on the other, she is this sexually liberal woman who is willing to have a ‘I’m using him as much as he’s using me’ relationship with her boss, only to act all hurt when she figures out that Charles has been using her (and anything else in a skirt). Then in a blink of an eye, she is flirting with the handsome FBI agent. It just seemed disjointed as if the writer took all the stereotypical behaviours of a single 30 something woman on TV and smooshed it into a character.

In all, it was an OK book, but it will be a while before I read the next book in the series, and then only when I am going through a book drought.
Profile Image for Andrea.
783 reviews12 followers
January 13, 2011
If you have ever worked in a museum, if you have ever wanted to work in a museum, if you want to know what goes on behind the scenes at a museum....you have to read this book!

Having worked for two different historical societies (and now at a historic site), this book was so familiar to me it was eerie. In fact, at one point I asked the person who lent me the book if the author had ever worked (or knew someone who worked) for the historical societies I worked for. I am amazed by how realistic this book truly is. From the details about collections managements, directors, and board members - the details are phenomenal! In addition, having lived through a theft at one place where I worked (thankfully not internal like it was in this book), I felt like I was reliving the horror of that situation. The only criticism in realism that I would have is even with all the mundane...it still seemed more glamorous than it actually is to work for a museum. And...how can the main character afford a house on the main line...even a small one???

I thought that Connolly wrote a unique main character in Nell Pratt. It isn't often that development and fundraising folks are featured in museums. Typically it is the curators or librarians (although the collections folk did have a prominent role.

The mystery portion was a little weak. I guessed who the thief was by the third chapter and it was revealed early on in the book. Part of this book's plot was not so much the who-done-it, but the how to catch the guy. The murder part of it dragged on until the end and I thought it was a bit rushed/didn't fall completely in place with the rest of the book. I would have liked a bit more action and a bit more suspicion played out amongst the rest of the staff.

Still, overall highly enjoyable. I can't wait to read the second in the series!
Profile Image for Anissa.
831 reviews245 followers
March 31, 2017
I was in the mood for a cozy mystery and I had this in my TBR pile so decided it was time to finally read it. It made me want to read more of the series but I can't say this was the most compelling cozy I've ever read. It pulled me in because it's set in Philadelphia (who isn't drawn to books set in places they've actually lived?) & surrounding counties and had a historical preservation society fundraiser as the sleuthing heroine. Recently, it seems my favorite sleuths are book publishers, librarians or curators as there's a nice look in at the workings of those day to day careers from the inside as the mystery plays out.

I figured out ridiculously early who the thief was and was surprised Nell didn't. It's repetitious in places and meandered but I expect that was part of being a "set up to the series" story. Points also for giving characters last names of some familiar names in Philadelphia in Girard, Pratt & Drexel. I also enjoyed Nell's suburban commuter train mentions as it made me recall the same. I also will take away from this book that I really need a recipe for the Corn & Cheese Casserole that Marty Terwilliger makes here. I've never heard of or had it but it certainly sounded good. Recommended & I'll continue the series.
Profile Image for Deanie Nelder.
1,131 reviews12 followers
October 17, 2020
Actually 3.5 stars

Eleanor "Nell" Pratt is in charge of fundraising for the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques, a small museum in Philadelphia. However, when she finds the body of one of her co-workers, she gets swept up into a mystery involving missing artifacts and documents from the museum's collection.

I like museums. I even took a class on museums while getting my art history degree. And I've volunteered in development, so I have a bit more relatable background to this mystery than a lot of people. I think it was interesting. The book did drag in places, but overall was a good start to a new series. I'm not sure where the author will go from here, because the opportunities for new mysteries in a museum seems limited, but I'd read them.
Profile Image for Doward Wilson.
752 reviews12 followers
August 5, 2016
Eleanor "Nell" Pratt is the fund raiser and event coordinator for the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia. As she is putting the finishing touches to that evenings gala to celebrate the Society's 125th anniversary she is confronted by Marty Terwilliger. Marty is a third-generation board member and related to all the old Philadelphia families. She informs Nell that valuable papers are missing from her family's recently and still uncatalogued collection of papers and items. Nell quietly starts by questioning Alfred who is in charge of recording and organizing the collections into their new computer system's data base. Learning from Alfred that other items appear to be misplaced or missing from the collections leaves Nell unsettled and she asks that he prepare a list for her. The next morning after a successful Gala, Nell discovers Alfred's body in the stacks. It looks like an accident but with what she just found out, Nell isn't so sure. Working with Marty to discover what is going one leads them to the fact that it is an inside job and the total of the missing items is in the millions. Marty calls in her cousin who is a local FBI Agent, as the agency is responsible for this type of theft. I loved this book! The characters are well developed, the background and story line are unique and very interesting and the theft and possible murder plot is complex with some surprises at the end. I recommend this series for anyone who enjoys an adventure with a fun historical twist.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,922 reviews1,469 followers
April 24, 2018
Eleanor "Nell" Pratt is the "Director of Development" (aka fundraiser) for the Pennsylvania Antiquities Society- a sort of museum/library cultural institution in Philadelphia. She enjoys her job but wishes it were easier to get money out of people to preserve Pennsylvania's heritage. The Society is short handed which means collections are left uncataloged and record keeping has been spotty. When major donor Martha "Marty" Terwillger angrily approaches Nell about some missing letters in the collection of Terwillger family papers she recently donated, Nell's first thought is to push the problem aside and deal with it later. After all, it's not her area of expertise. Marty insists on Nell's help so Nell approaches the registrar, Alfred Findley, the one person in the building who should know where everything is or should be. Alfred is mildly worried because he has noticed other items may be missing as well but Nell has too much to deal with working on a fundraising gala to worry too much about missing collections. She promises to meet Alfred, Marty and Rich, the cataloger the next morning to talk it over. When Nell arrives at her office in the morning, she discovers Alfred's lifeless body blocking the door. The police dismiss the death as an accident but Nell isn't so sure. Could Alfred's death be related to the missing items? When she approaches the Society president Charles Elliott Worthington with her concerns he dismisses them. Marty is on the warpath to get her missing letters back. She enlists Nell's help to figure out what happened to them and whether Alfred's death was actually an accident.

This is an intriguing mystery and all too realistic. The author based the Society on an institution where she worked and Nell's job is modeled after the author's previous fundraising jobs. This experience served the author well in creating a detailed portrait of a special collections library and cultural institution. I could easily picture myself roaming the building with Nell (*because I have also worked in these types of places) and found myself wanting to stop and look at some historic document or read those Terwillger letters. The mystery may seem confusing or unrealistic for those who are not familiar with places like the Society, but I assure you, the mystery is very plausible - minus the murder. I wasn't at all surprised by the reveal. In fact, it was a bit of a let down to be told fairly early in the novel who the chief suspect was. That person was my #1 suspect as well. It was too obvious. I was pleased the FBI got involved but mad that Nell and Marty broke so many laws to get the information they wanted. Nell worries so much about her reputation. She should have thought of that before she did something illegal.

The characters in this book are well-drawn and realistic. I liked Nell for the most part. I felt her strong passion for the Society and American heritage and share that passion. I understood her concerns and share them. What I did not like about her was her relationship with Charles. I do not get what they see in each other. I found him too slick and charming. He's not my type at all. He must be very handsome and very good in bed. I found their sex life unsatisfying. There was no passion between them or any feelings at all. Why include the scene (closed door) at all? It was enough to imply they were in a relationship. I also didn't like the lack of backstory for Nell. Who is she? Where did she come from? Where is her family?

At first I didn't like Marty. She seemed like an awful *itch and I didn't understand why a board member was allowed to be hands-on with an unprocessed collection. Once you donate something, it's no longer yours! That really bothered me. Once she revealed her motivations and started manipulating the situation, I liked her much better. She provides some much needed humor to the story, along with her friend Libby. Libby is a hot ticket and she and Marty make a crazy team. I also liked Marty's relationship with her cousin "Jimmy." Agent James Morrison, FBI, comes across as passionate about the law but also an understanding and sympathetic man. I found him FAR more attractive than Charles and thought he and Nell had great chemistry. He also had excellent chemistry with his cousin Marty. She still treats him like a child which keeps his ego in check. My favorite character was poor Alfred. Timid, shy and devoted to his work, I could relate to him. I was heartbroken he had to be the murder victim. What a sad loss of life and work! I don't think anyone could replace him.

I am really annoyed by the lack of funding to cultural institutions like the one presented in the book. It's fictional but places like that do exist and the problems in the novel are very real. I wish our society valued our heritage more to pump more money into cultural institutions to hire actual professionals to do the work. It would reduce some of the cataloging backlog and other problems Nell deals with in the story. I was appalled the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society would hire a kid fresh out of college, with no experience, to do cataloging work AND let a board member/donor be so actively involved in cataloging. If Marty wants it done ASAP, she should fork over some more money to hire professional staff/work on her family members to donate more. Also, no one catalogs at the item level anymore and even folder level is pushing it. More Product, Less Process is the thing.

I can't see this as a series, nor would I want to read any more books about theft and murder at a special collections library. It's not entertainment for me.

Verdict: This book is too scary for the archives and special collections community! It may be fun for non-professionals to read about the inner workings of a special collections library but those of us in the profession should give this a pass. We have enough stress dealing with this stuff in real life.

Content: Some sex scenes. Not graphic but it's obvious what the characters are about to do.
A few swear words.
Profile Image for Jeannie and Louis Rigod.
1,976 reviews29 followers
November 7, 2010
I found myself really enjoying this book. It takes place in a private museum and involves the inner-workings of the museum and it's artifacts. The book was well conceived, well thought-out, and well written.

The characters were likable and the location very comfortable. The mystery was very believable and opens the reader's mind as to possible crimes in our own favorite foundations.

I eagerly await the next book. It will be difficult to top this one. However, I'm sure Ms. Connolly will not let us down.
Profile Image for Mia.
235 reviews9 followers
June 3, 2021
Nell is the director of fundraising at her city's historical institution. A board member approaches Nell to tell her she suspects there are several items that are misplaced or missing. Nell asks one of her staff members for help, and he admits a number of items are indeed missing and they decide to investigate. Unfortunately the morning after their main fundraising event, Nell finds her staff member dead on the floor.
This book was a little confusing, as I'm not familiar with historical cataloging. The author also had her main character do way too much analysing and soul searching. Her trying to figure things out was repetitive and drawn out. I was able to skim through a lot of it, and still get the main points. The storyline is interesting though, and I will follow up with the next book in the series since I adore her Ireland one.
Profile Image for Di.
421 reviews30 followers
March 21, 2020
More like a 2.5 - Read for #Book1CoziesClub and #MarchMysteryMadness

I really struggled to get into this book. In the end, I wouldn't say I got into it at all. It has put me in a bit of a reading slump if I'm honest.

Some of the things that happened during Nell's investigation seemed to only have been included to offer some racy material. Going ahead with investigative ideas that were illegal (which if any evidence was found wouldn't hold up in court), wasn't the best story telling road for me. Also, the investigation didn't hold any amount of suspense for me considering this is a mystery.

Since I own the next book in this series I will read it, but if this wasn't the case I'm not sure that I would continue. This author has other series that I have been interested so I will check out other work by her, but I was a bit disappointed in this one.
602 reviews6 followers
February 7, 2021
Really, really loved this book, Great murder mystery plus the theft of historical material from a historical society. Great characters and enough twist and turns and just the right amount of sex. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Dennis Fischman.
1,334 reviews29 followers
February 20, 2014
Nell Pratt is the Director of Development at the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society. Hours before her big fundraising event, a blueblood Board member informs her that priceless documents from the Board member's family collection have disappeared from the building. Then, after the gala, Nell discovers the body of the man who worked most on those documents, dead in an upstairs room. Is it murder? How will Nell get the documents back, and save her job? And is her relationship with her boss, the elegant Charles Elliot Worthington, going to survive the crisis?

If you are looking for a puzzle that will tax your brain, this isn't it. I figured out who stole the documents halfway through the book, and who committed the murder almost immediately thereafter. But it was a pleasure to follow the relationships between Nell, Board member Marty Terwilliger, and her nephew Special Agent James Morrison (yes, he went down to the wrong side of town).

I can also say from personal experience that the book gives a good idea of how fundraisers spend their work days, and the relationship between staff and major donors. The author has done the work herself. Like me, she speaks nonprofit.

All in all, a fun read. I will at least give her next book a try.
Profile Image for Annie.
1,356 reviews4 followers
October 14, 2017
The first 100 pages of this book were incredibly slow and boring. I work in fundraising and with the exception of the dead body, I felt like I was at work while reading the book. That is not a good thing. I didn't have a problem with Nell until she started describing her relationship with Charles. It all felt very cold. I get that not every relationship is perfect but when you're starting out a series, you ought to take pains to endear the main character to the reader. (Or make the book funny or gripping or anything but what the author did.) Confession - I skipped to the end because I didn't care. I am so disappointed with this book. Seems like so many cozy mysteries focus on baking or running a coffee shop. I was looking forward to one about museums/history.
Profile Image for Barbara.
484 reviews17 followers
September 3, 2014
Enjoyed this book on the whole. A bit predictable, but not overly so, so that the development of the story is more smooth.

Nell is taken in by her boss and "lover". While she originally thinks he is good for the museum and society, he is really ripping off the historical collections.

This story does come to a satisfactory conclusion in the end, in terms, of the mystery. However, in term of the FBI agent in charge of investigating the missing collections pieces, and the "fund raiser" for the museum, it is not as satisfactory. Is he interested in "Nell". Will this relationship develop and continue? I guess only future books will tell.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for ❂ Murder by Death .
1,071 reviews123 followers
November 18, 2010
I heard from quite a few people that they were disappointed with this book, so I was leery of even beginning it. I have read her Orchard Mysteries, and her Glassblowing series (under the name Atwell) and I have to say I enjoyed this book *much* more. She has a way to go before I truly 'like' the protagonist - she seems a bit wooden still, but other characters in the book were extremely likeable. I don't think it will ever be a top five series for me, but with a bit of work, maybe the top 10. I'll definitely read a second book.
Profile Image for Debra B.
709 reviews15 followers
March 6, 2022
What an unexpected surprise ... this book turned out much better than I expected.

Nell Pratt, fund raiser for a private museum in Philadelphia, learns that valuable historic letters have gone missing from the collection of a major donor. Many more items have been identified as missing as the museum begins to electronically catalog its collection. When the archivist is found dead, it seems strange that the Society president isn't pushing for an investigation. And so Nell begins to investigate...
Profile Image for Debbie Floyd.
186 reviews58 followers
February 6, 2020
I work in the city of Philadelphia and have spent many hours in various museums in the city. I think this was a quick enjoyable cozy mystery. I have other books in the series and will continue to read them over time. I agree with others who indicated that it was fairly easy to figure out the criminal early on in this book, however it is nice to read a book that references the area that I know for most of my life.
Profile Image for Ferne.
1,078 reviews32 followers
June 8, 2020
The novel setting of this "series opener" is the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia based on The Historical Society of Pennsylvania* which was founded in 1824, and is one of the nation’s largest archives of historical documents.

I first discovered cozy mysteries by Sheila Connolly when I read "Buried In a Bog" (Book 1 of the County Cork Series). I think the County Cork Series will always be my favorite series by Ms. Connolly as through a friend and work colleagues I've heard many charming stories about the country and daily life. It remains a travel dream to visit Ireland but with my reading passport I enjoy each escape to Maura Donovan's pub.

I will definitely continue reading the Museum Mysteries Series as Philadelphia is my Mother's hometown and from an early age visiting relatives to Mother's delight in being the tour guide to the city for family and friends from "out of town" I am very familiar with the city so all the setting descriptions brought a smile.

It's easy to notice the same "approach" for the main character Eleanor (Nell) Pratt as I discovered when Maura Donovan begins her sleuthing and that is the constant and repetitive questions that Nell asks of herself when she's reviewing the clues. But I came to like the character of Maura for other reasons and I already like Nell. Also, for those of us that have silently analyzed (either in our past or present) next steps many of those thoughts are repetitive too before admitting that the next step is clear. There's a hint of potential romance that always adds its own interest to a cozy and there's an interesting twist for Nell that sets up the potential for even more absorbing stories in the rest of the series.

This novel has received a lower star rating due to many glaring errors that should have been corrected by the editor assisting the author. As a former copy editor I am very distracted in my joy of reading the novel when these instances occur.

This type of error is the most irritating to me. I have substituted Xxxxx for the character's name so as not to provide a spoiler.
Chapter 8 - She (Marty) shook her head abruptly. "It's not that. Xxxxx's funeral will be on Tuesday. Will you let the staff know?"
Chapter 10 – Or so I thought, until she (Latoya) said, “Will there be a service?”
Nell’s answer: “Yes, tomorrow. I’ll send you the details.”
Chapter 11 – Opens with Nell returning to her home in Bryn Mawr on Saturday afternoon and also spending Sunday at home returning to work on Monday.
Chapter 12 – Timeline remains Monday.
Chapter 13 – Xxxxx’s funeral is indeed on Tuesday.
*More interesting facts about The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) include the formal transfer of ownership of its museum collection in 2009 to the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia (now the Philadelphia History Museum). HSP's building at 1300 Locust Street was designed by Addison Hutton and is listed on the City of Philadelphia's Register of Historical Places. If you don't have an opportunity to visit HSP in person, there are many digital offerings available online at https://hsp.org/history-online.
Profile Image for Shannon.
126 reviews
April 14, 2022
I work in the grants field, have a library degree, interned at a historical society, and my family comes from old Philadelphia money (the author is right about one thing - old Philly family money is long gone, at least this old family), so you'd think this book would be made for me. The first 1/4 to 1/3 was spent detailing the minutiae of operations. It just wouldn't end. The redundancy. We get it, you're old and broke, like all historical societies (and by most standards, 100 years isn't old for a building). The protagonist was awful. Maybe if she spent more time doing HER job instead of being a know-it-all busybody all up in everyone else's business she could stop complaining about the society not having funds (she also takes over the FBI agent's job, charging the person with murder, but of course he finds her charming). But I stuck around because right above the title of the book it reads A Murder Mystery. So, I read on to get to the mystery. And read. And read. Finally about halfway through a couple of suspects were named and narrowed to one in a paragraph. Blink and you'll miss it. I literally went back and reread the chapter because I thought I missed something. Like, no red herrings; no mystery. Half the characters were never mentioned again, and the rest were just all over the place when it came to development. Is Marty an insane, nattering, broke old-money matron or a hip, eccentric with lots of money? And finally, the reveal was just...blah.
Profile Image for Bonnie Randall.
Author 4 books90 followers
July 28, 2015
Nell is a professional fundraiser for the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society, a gig that pays the bills and serves her passion; Nell feels the artifacts at the Society have deep reverence and values how much they mean to history scholars.

But let’s talk about Charles. President of the Society, this guy knows which wine goes with dinner. Which piece of cutlery to use with which course. He can drive a Jag like he’s owned one all his life (and he hasn’t; he rents the damn thing), and he’s a veritable phone book when it comes to knowing the names and numbers of high society women whose husbands are now pushing up daisies after leaving them with obese bank accounts.

I hated Charles.

A gold-digging grifter of the worst order, he’s just so damn fussy. Perfect suit. Shiny shoes. Recoiling when Nell comes to the door unkempt and messed up from house painting (and he’s shown up unannounced. What a dick, to then have an all curly-from-distaste face when she looks less than perfect).

Why didn’t you throw his ass to the curb then, Nell? Why? Tell me whhhhy.

I find it tough to buy that Charles is an ace in the sack like all his jilted women say. He’d be the dude who hopped off the bed the moment after completing the deed and change the sheets—all while keeping up a snooty monologue regarding what the Egyptian silk thread count was of the damn things, or some other pretentious obnoxiousness like that.

Oh, how I wanted a mysterious oil slick to appear and swallow Charles. Make him all messy.

Or for a bird to take a crap on his crotch (and yeah, I know that messes with the law of physics, but hey – a gal can dream).

I sincerely, and not in a small way, loathed Charles.

And I kind of wanted to slap Nell, too. Even if she did keep him in her life because she liked the illusion of his grandiose Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous, and the occasional schlong-polishing in his bedroom-with-the-threadcount, she had to know this dude was a total dick.

You suck, Charles.

Marty, though, rocked. Single, confident, and without any apparent need for a man (yet she’d take one if the right dude drifted by), Marty is unapologetic for using her influence and upper-echelon familial connections to get what she needs. Nell did well when she befriended Marty.

And James is also rather fetching, no? Nell would have to be sexually tone-deaf to miss all the ch-ch-ch-chemistry she has with him (which of course she is, and that’s why I’ll pick up the next title in this series. A more pathetic romantic than me simply doesn’t exist).

This is one of the best cozies I’ve read in a long time. Connolly can write, her characters are smart and the secondaries are well-drawn and hugely compatible with Nell.

Except for Charles.

Charles sucked.

4 Stars knocked to 3 for the crazy-many typos that disappointed me, considering this book is from a mainstream-publisher. Nonetheless, really liked the comfort and mindlessness of this genre and how Connolly navigated it.
Profile Image for Melissa.
603 reviews20 followers
December 3, 2010
If I was being objective, this would be 2.5 stars. But it's about a murder in a museum! How can I be objective about that?
I don't read a lot of cozy mysteries, so not sure how to judge based on that, but for the museum nerd in me, I loved:
--the very frank discussion of how hard it is to raise money
--the extreme backlog of cataloging and keeping track of things
--the smarmy director
--the aggravating until you love her board member
--the nerdy archivist (who is the one that gets killed)
--the museum gossip chain
Lots and lots of inside jokes that I found hysterical, though I don't know if non-museum folks would. However, this book will totally make the rounds among my Dallas museum friends. She gets an amazing number of things right about working in museums, other than the whole murder/theft scam thing. . .
Is it a great book? Not really. But it was fun! Will definitely keep an eye out for the rest of the series. The only thing missing was a charming, fabulous director of education. . .

Profile Image for Suspense Magazine.
569 reviews83 followers
July 1, 2011
Eleanor “Nell” Pratt is the fundraiser for the Society for the Preservation of Pennsylvania Antiques in Philadelphia. She knows it includes old families with old money and documents worth millions, but when a collection of correspondence letters to George Washington goes missing and the archivist in charge of them is found dead in the stacks, suddenly Nell finds herself wondering why the society president isn't looking for an investigation. She soon realizes she will have to unlock this mystery herself!
I found this book to be well written. The heroine in this series Nell Pratt is a realistic, down-to-earth and very relatable character. She is your best friend, neighbor or someone you know. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the museum and the city itself as well as the rich history behind Philadelphia. The storyline and plot were well thought out and the story kept a very even pace. Fans of National Treasure would enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Catherine Peterson for Suspense Magazine
198 reviews3 followers
February 6, 2017
As the founder and director of a small local history museum, I felt entirely at home in this environment. It's a good story and reflects what goes on in museums. It reminds me how we really need to get the rest of our collections catalogued, which is what we think about most of the time anyway. It's reassuring to know we are not the only ones with crates of donated materials we have not even had time to look at. It's a manual for museum operators with a story line to carry it along.
Profile Image for Tyrannosaurus regina.
1,013 reviews18 followers
December 12, 2014
I don't know whether I'm just having bad luck, or I'm fooling myself that I actually do occasionally enjoy cozies in the first place. I mostly finished this one because I find it hard to leave a book unfinished once I get a certain distance into it. Part of it was that, as someone whose job involves a lot of event management and fundraising, it just wasn't all that escapist for me. But really, the biggest sin of the book was just that it was boring. Everything took too long and there were just no surprises in store.
Profile Image for Elaine.
20 reviews
May 21, 2011
This was such a formula story, I knew in the first few chapters who the thief was. As soon as the FBI agent appeared I knew there would be some sexual tension, if not an affair; and about half way through the book I knew who the new president would be. I've never worked in a place that called so many meetings--how did they get their work done? I found the book slow and boring, but I kept reading hoping that I would be fooled in the end, but I wasn't.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
1,815 reviews4 followers
September 17, 2016
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick, read and is a different type of cozy because it resolves around the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society which is not the normal setting for these types of stories. Nell is someone I can relate to and I'm hoping she gets together with James. I will definitely be reading more books in this series to see what mysteries Nell has to deal with.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,789 reviews33 followers
December 30, 2019
I really liked this first book in the series and am looking forward to seeing where it goes. Nell was a good character and I could relate to her. I thought the setting for the book was interesting and that the mystery flowed well. Looking forward to reading more. #readforkimberly
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160 reviews
May 23, 2013
I am curious about what happens next, but I did see the bad guys in this book from many pages away.
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