Cover Image: The Art of the Decoy

The Art of the Decoy

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley for providing a free ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. I’ve read a wide variety of cozy mysteries. However, this is the first one I’ve read about folk art, specifically carved duck decoys. I really enjoyed the author’s description of all of the characters. I could picture them all. The story was a little slow, but it soon picked up. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I will read additional books in the series.
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A new cozy series centered around antiques where you enjoy a taut twisty tale and learn about art and antiques...in this book about folk art and specifically wood carvings for decoys. I  enjoyed the information almost as much as the mystery, and the story is a good one too. Edie Brown returns to help out at her family business while her mother has been convicted of art forgery. Already tainted by scandal when an appraisal done by the business goes wrong, Edie jumps in feet first to protect her name and the firm's reputation. Her African Violet loving uncle and their internet savvy intern make an interesting and formidable force. Already looking forward to the next in the series.
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Story of the book-

Edie Brown comes to Northern Vermont to re-establish her family’s fine art and antiques company after her mother is jailed for forging works of art. Now that her mother is gone, she is confident she can accomplish it. After all, it was disagreements with her mother over unethical business methods that caused Edie to leave three years prior, including a gaffe that resulted in Edie being placed on probation for selling stolen items.

Edie is determined to take advantage of the opportunity to restore the company’s bad reputation and shrinking finances when she secures a contract assessing a hoarder’s duck decoy collection at the farmhouse. Edie plans to cherry-pick a special decoy made by the client’s illustrious Quebecoise folk artist relatives instead of cash. When the collection disappears, just the tables are turned.

Edie, who is accused of the crime, is scared that the repercussions would ruin the company and put her in jail with her mother. She explores the dark corners of the local antiques and art scene out of desperation. Edie longs to approach her ex-probation officer and ex-lover for assistance when she discovers a potential connection between the decoy theft and a violent heist at a Quebec museum. But she thinks his current desire to rekindle their romance may be a front for a more sinister intent. Before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the vicious thieves themselves catch up with her, Edie must put everything she holds dear at stake to expose the culprits and reclaim the decoys with the aid of her eccentric uncle Tuck and their mysterious new employee Kala.

My review-

Both the author’s descriptions of the Vermont landscape and the images she provides of the carved and painted bird decoys are beautiful. The narrative has several humorous moments. The first book in Trish Esden’s Scandal Mountain Antiques cozy mystery series is titled The Art of the Decoy. The Art of Decoy is a lighthearted book with a brilliant, engaging, suspenseful narrative and a cast of eccentric, fascinating, and dynamic characters. Another benefit is that it serves as a fantastic introduction to the field of assessing antiques.

With an attempted murder, a robbery, a museum heist, a murder, and more, this cozy mystery is jam-packed with action. This novel accomplished something I usually enjoy: it gave small pieces about various areas of the actual world, in addition to the characters and a delightfully convoluted narrative. There is at least one piece of art history in this case that I will always remember. The novel’s mystery has a strong, high-stakes plot. I developed a connection with the main characters, Edie, her uncle Tuck, and their staff member Kala. They can solve the riddle since each of them has special abilities. My favorite is Kala, who is skilled at accessing dubious areas of the internet to unearth vital information.

Edie, the main character, and her friends Tuck and Kala were likable. The remaining characters were intriguing and, depending on who they were, were simple to like or despise. The storyline was quite intriguing. Regarding antiques and mystery, the New England backdrop is ideal. One of my favorite backdrops for cozies is this. Future installments will hopefully reveal what awaits Edie and the group in the future. Not only for Edie but also the readers, the book’s conclusion and final few chapters were explosive. I would continue reading the series.
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⭐⭐⭐.5

Overall, this was a pretty entertaining first book in a new series. I really enjoyed the art and antiques angle. I also loved the Northern Vermont setting and the French Canadian tie-in. It was well written and well paced, with plenty of twists and turns. The characters were (mostly) likable. However, the main niggle I had with this one was Edie herself. There was just something I can't even put my finger on that made it difficult to warm up to her. Like she came across a bit too moneygrubbing...I don't know. 🤷🏻‍♀️ That said, I am looking forward to seeing what these characters get up next.  👍🏻👍🏻

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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The decoy in the title is literal--vintage, carved wood duck decoys take center stage in this new series. There is a bit of art history/folk art, a family of eccentric appraisers and theft to round out the story. Edie comes home to Northern Vermont to help her uncle with their appraisal business while her mom serves time for art forgery. Edie winds up being the favored appraiser for a local recluse, whose attic is packed with local/Canadian carved decoys and even a couple paintings of note. I liked the descriptions of Vermont and interesting details about the decoys. They're an interesting bunch, worth picking up.
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A very interesting light cozy mystery set around antique trade in picturesque North Vermont.
The Art of the Decoy is full of interesting details and sub-stories that create and fill the picture of 'where' and 'why'.
I found this book a bit 'wordy' but still fun.
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Edie Brown returns to the small town in Vermont to help out her uncle at his request. Her mother has been sent to
prison for art forgery and Edie knows that though her mother was set up, she willingly did the deed. Their reputation
of the business is on the edge and business is bad. A business that had been flourishing and with an excellent reputation.
Edie seeks to find a way to set the business back on its feet and return to her own life in the city.

It was not to be. Immediatley drawn into a massive find which could make both Edie and the shop's reputation for ever,
she is again like her mother drawnn into a well thought of web of intrigue, fraud and finally murder till she, her uncle
Tuck and Kala who is an assistant try to make sense of the whys and hows of the fraud.

Dealing with plover decoys (totally unknown to me) made for interesting reading and the business of this was an education
in itself. Well spun and well told this was a good one.
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This was not my cup of tea. Right from the “I had an affair with my probation officer” to other questionable choices Edie makes. Lots of set up and the actual mystery bit that follows leads to a rush needing to be solved. I can totally see how this will be popular though even though it is not my thing.
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First book in a new series “Scandal Mountain Antiques” – perfect cozy to curl up with.
Edie gets coned back home by her uncle Tuck to help out with an antique event that her mother (currently jailed for art forgery) signed up for. Once home she determines to stay ‘only’ – in her lap falls an appraisal job of a collection of Decoys of a Québecois Family of Folk Artists. Before she has a chance to finish the job they get stolen and the finger gets pointed at her. 
Edie, Tuck and Kala assemble a command center and hope to find the decoys before the FBI gets involved.
Great first book in the series, looking forward to more adventures.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for an early read.
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I always look forward to reading a mystery with an art and antique theme and this, the first of a new series, instantly earned a spot on my "must be read" series. The main character is Edie Brown who has returned to her home town of Scandal Mountain, Vermont in an effort to save the family antiques business. With help of her Uncle Tuck and their employee, Kala, they may have a fighting chance. The cloud over the business is due to her mother, an art forger who is doing a stretch in prison for forgery. While she was breaking the law, she got her under age daughter caught up in her mess. Edie only got probation. When at an antiques fair Edie connects with a woman who has a very valuable decoy and Edie has hopes that she will be able to make it work for the family business. The collection belongs to the woman's father-in-law and if it is valuable as the decoy she has seen, it's worth a fortune. Before she knows it, the collection vanishes, the bad guys show up, there's murder, museum theft and a touch of romance. A bit of everything all bound up in a tutorial about the history and value of decoys and folk art.
With a lovely small town Vermont setting, some quirky characters (Uncle Tuck and Kala) and a complex puzzle to unravel, this was a great start to this series.
My thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I can honestly say that I have not read a book quite like The Art of the Decoy, the first book in the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery by Trish Esden. I went into the book, not having read the description and expecting a cozy murder mystery. But that wasn’t exactly what I got.

The Art of the Decoy follows Edie Brown, a young woman who has grown up in and around the antique business. After her mother goes to prison for art forgery, Edie is back in town to help out the family. She gets a job appraising a collection of decoys, but she’s the prime suspect after they disappear and is out to clear her name.

The first thing that jumped out about The Art of the Decoy is that it’s not a murder mystery. Yes, there’s sort of a related murder, but the book is all about a theft. That was actually a nice and refreshing twist. What didn’t work as well was that the robbery didn’t happen until about halfway through the story. There was a ton of setup and then a huge rush to solve everything.

It was also a mixed bag with the characters. I had a hard time warming up to Edie. She has some definite strong opinions and made lots of questionable choices. But I liked her sidekicks, Uncle Tuck and employee Kala. I also had difficulty figuring out Shane, partially because of his history with Edie, which left a bad taste in my mouth. There were also a host of possible bad guys rounding out the cast.

All in all, I think The Art of the Decoy suffered from being the first in a new series. There was so much setup and introductions to make that the mystery took a back seat for most of the book. In the end, I did warm up to this small town and Edie, and it’ll be interesting to see where this series goes in the future.
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If you like your mysteries to have a background in the world of art and antiques-- like the books by Connie Berry and Jane K. Cleland for instance-- you should enjoy the first Scandal Mountain Antiques mystery, The Art of the Decoy by Trish Esden. 

Edie Brown and her mother are a bit unusual in the world of cozy mysteries due mainly to their both being in trouble with the law. Edie's mother-- now in prison for art forgery-- was responsible for Edie selling stolen property and being put on probation. And she's just the sort of mother that makes you want to roll your eyes: she refuses to admit that she's ever done anything wrong and is still full of hare-brained ideas for the business. Edie, on the other hand, has worked hard to become an expert in New England folk art and furnishings so that, if she can't revive her grandparents' antiques business, she'll still have a good shot at working for a top-notch auction house or museum.

Edie's family home was built in the 1830s, and its beautiful gardens are modeled after Monet's at Giverny. The mystery itself revolves around a legendary collection of waterfowl decoys that hasn't been seen for decades. With so many people either openly hostile or obviously up to no good, it takes Edie a while to sort them all out, and I appreciated learning about the antiques as the story unfolded.

Only two things bothered me. One, I don't care much for romance in my mysteries, and there was a bit too much burning and yearning between Edie and her Hollywood handsome ex-probation officer. (Aw come on... fall for a homely guy with sticky-out ears once in a blue moon!) The other thing that bothered me a bit was Edie and her mother's well-known tangles with the law. This is no secret, and I really can't see Edie being able to revive the family business. Also, I have a feeling that these troubles are going to rear their ugly heads over and over again in future books, and a little of that can go a long way.

So, although there's quite a lot of potential in The Art of the Decoy, I do have my concerns. I'll just have to wait and see what happens in the next book in the series.
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The Art of the Decoy by Trish Esden is the first book in A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mysteries.  This is one busy cozy mystery with an attempted murder, a robbery, a museum heist, a murder, and more.  We travel to Scandal Mountain, Vermont where Edie Brown is returning after being gone for many years.  Her mother has just been sentenced to nine months in prison for art forgery and someone is needed to run the family antique store, Scandal Mountain Fine Arts & Antiques.  At an antique appraisal fair, Edie meets Nina with an antique duck decoy.  Edie secures the job of appraising the Bouchard family collection which could be quite lucrative for the store and the Bouchard family.  When the decoys go missing, Nina cries fowl accusing Edie of the theft.  This would forever destroy the business and land her in prison (she could be roommates with her mother).  She gets Nina to agree to give her a chance to recover the lost decoys.  Edie is given a tight timeline.  Edie works with her Uncle Tuck and new employee, Kala Acosta to uncover who stole the antique waterfowl collection and recover them.  The author provided beautiful descriptions of Vermont.  I also enjoyed the details on the various antiques especially the duck decoys.  It sounded like an amazing collection. There are a variety of characters in the story with my favorites being Edie’s Uncle Tuck and Kala (a clever girl with lots of energy).  The mystery was multifaceted.  There are some unlikeable characters (our villains) who may or may not be guilty.  Many of them appear guilty, but you never know.  The reveal will have you holding on as Edie speeds toward the conclusion to wrap up the case.  We get some answers along the way with the complete details at the end.  There is a romantic interest for Edie in the form of her old probation officer and lover.  I could have done with less of this element.  I felt it was a little heavy handed in the beginning. There are some areas that dragged for me (and I ended up skimming through them) and I felt the story was a little long.  The story does contain foul language, mention of intimate situations, and references to wacky tobacky. There are some wonderful antiques mentioned in this book (I grew up surrounded by them with two aunts in the business).  There are duplicitous people out there who will be happy to take advantage of people to make a buck.  The Art of the Decoy has a crafty whodunit with prized duck decoys, an antique appraisal, an enthusiastic employee, a grumpy Gerard, a former lover, filched fowl, a curious connection, and a rough wrap-up.
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A good start for a new cozy series, I appreciated the folk art and antique background and liked Edie, a fleshed and rounded character.
The plot is well developed and compelling, the quirky characters are fleshed out, and the solid mystery kept me guessing.
Can't wait for the next story.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I really enjoyed reading The Art of the Decoy.
Having travelled through Vermont a lot I recognized some of the town names.
Reading about antiques and art was fascinating and I hope to be able to read the next book in the series. The authors writing was easy to read and the flow of the story kept my interest. Excellent start to a new series.
I'm not an eloquent reviewer and I don't like to give out any tidbits from the story because that is not fair to other readers. You can read the synopsis to find out what the book is about but from this reader to others....it is a really good book. Full of antiques, art, appraisals and mystery.
It kept my interest

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for an digital ARC copy of this book for an honest opinion. All words are mine and mine alone.
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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Art of the Decoy (Scandal Mountain Antiques #1) by Trish Esden from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

…A brilliant series debut! The Art of Decoy is a fun read with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, which made this an entertaining read…

When art and antiquities appraiser Edie Brown returns to her hometown of Scandal Mountain in Northern Vermont to help her uncle with the family business while her mother is imprisoned for art forgery. Her mother's incarceration further tarnishing the family name after Edie had been caught up in an illegal deal as a juvie. Edie recovered having had her record expunged but not before the damage was done to her and her family’s reputation. She left behind her family, Shane, her old parole officer and old flame opting to leave town and branch out on her own. She went to school and landed a position at the prestigious Christie’s Auction house.  

Once back in Scandal Mountain she does not plan to stay too long, just long enough to salvage what is left of the family business. Joining her Uncle Tuck along with an intern appraiser/computer expert Kala they try to get the family’s Antique shop back on its feet. While at an event, Edie is approached by recent divorcee, Nina, with a folk-art waterfowl decoy that belongs to her father-in-law Claude who she and her daughter are currently living with. Edie recognizes the decoy as being a piece of work from a famous Quebec folk artist whose works are displayed in Canadian Museums. Edie sees a huge opportunity to earn some cash when Nina asks her to evaluate her father-in-law’s enormous collection. After a series of suspicious circumstances leads to the collection mysteriously vanishing, it looks like the past will come back to haunt Edie. When Nina points the finger at Edie, she gives her the ultimatum to find the collection in five days or she will go to the police and Edie and her mother could be cellmates. While tracking down the stolen collection Edie gets more than she bargained for, connections to murder, a museum robbery and vengeance put Edie deeper than she expected and under the microscope of the FBI Art Crime Team. As they collect more and more clues Kala uncovers disturbing news on the Darknet that makes Edie doubt all that she knows.  
 A brilliant series debut! The Art of Decoy is a fun read with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, which made this an entertaining read. Another perk is it acts as a great primer into the world of appraising antiquities. Overall, I enjoyed the book, I did feel it dragged a bit in parts, but the author more than makes up for it with a suspenseful and satisfying conclusion. I cannot wait to read more in this series, I highly recommend it.
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I was given a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
After her mother is sent to prison for art forgery, Edie Brown returns to Northern Vermont to rebuild her family’s fine art and antiques business. She’s certain she can do it now that her mother is gone. After all, butting heads with her mom over bad business practices was what drove Edie away three years ago, including a screwup that landed Edie on probation for selling stolen property.

When Edie scores a job appraising a waterfowl decoy collection at a hoarder’s farmhouse, she’s determined to take advantage of the situation to rebuild the business’s tarnished reputation and dwindling coffers. In lieu of payment, Edie intends to cherry-pick an exceptional decoy carved by the client’s renowned Quebecoise folk artist ancestors. Only the tables turn when the collection vanishes.

Accused of the theft, Edie’s terrified that the fallout will destroy the business and land her in prison next to her mom. Desperate, she digs into the underbelly of the local antiques and art world. When Edie uncovers a possible link between the decoy theft and a deadly robbery at a Quebec museum, she longs to ask her ex-probation officer, and ex-lover, for help. But she suspects his recent interest in rekindling their romance may hide a darker motive.

With the help of her eccentric uncle Tuck and Kala, their enigmatic new employee, Edie must risk all she holds dear to expose the thieves and recover the decoys before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the ruthless thieves themselves catch up with her. (Goodreads synopsis)

I have not read anything by Trish Esden before since this is her debut novel. 

At points I liked Edie, and at others I wanted to smack her. She acts terrified at talking to people or certain people seeing her, but when it came to the mystery of the decoys, she seemed to lack common sense. I liked the interaction with Tuck, and was glad to see her warm up with Kala. I hope as the series progresses that the author allows the reader to view more of Kala. She’s a mystery inside a mystery. I also liked her interactions with Shane. However, I despised how she handled Nina when the decoys went missing, and a few of the other antique dealers. 

For a debut novel, though, I felt it was solid. The plot made sense, there were plenty of suspects, and the tie ups at the end were practical. There were moments in the middle were it seemed to stutter which slowed the pacing for me, but I still enjoyed it. 

Overall I rate this novel 4 out of 5 stars
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An interesting start to a new series featuring Edie, who has returned to Vermont from NYC to help her uncle Tuck after her mom almost tanked their antique business by committing forgery.  She finds herself in the underbelly of the antiques business when a decoy (those ducks are awfully valuable) goes missing after she appraises it.  Edie, who got probation for selling stolen property in another one of her mother's schemes, finds herself a prime suspect here in crimes that stretch from Quebec, where there was murder.  Luckily, Tuck and Kala help as she dodges the FBI and others.  It's a nicely complex mystery and the characters are good.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Looking forward to the next one.
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A woman returns to her home town to manage her mother's antique business after she's imprisoned for forgery.  She attends an appraisal event where she meets a woman with a beautiful bird decoy.  As she delves further into the family's collection of decoys, she becomes embroiled in a mystery of stolen art and dangerous criminals.  And, she's trying to figure out whether she can trust a probation officer-turned detective (and romantic interest) with what she finds.  This was an interesting mystery with good characters.  I enjoyed it, and also learned a little about antique bird decoys in the process!
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This went to the DNF pile at about 30%. I just couldn't warm up to the main character, Edie, and I really didn't care about what was happening. It would probably be more enjoyable for someone more interested in folk arts and antiques. It just wasn't at all my thing.
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