Cover Image: Peril at Pennington Manor

Peril at Pennington Manor

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Member Reviews

Meh. VERY heavy on the mystery and not enough cozy characters and setting. This one just didn't hold my interest unfortunately. There was too much drama for a cozy mystery.
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It was one of a ride in this story. There a lot of characters yet so much for the motive of the killer. I kind of predicted the killer and I like how the author were able to connect the stories without changing anything from it.
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The second in the Avery Ayers Antique series continues with the friends and families who were so engaging in Book 1. The setting for the mystery in this one is perfect, and the Pennington family is quite captivating. 

Even though this one is strong, I enjoyed Book #1 much more, a rare occurrence with a cozy series. For a bit, we have a love triangle with tingling and zinging. I get the purpose, but it’s a little hokey for my tastes. 

Gardner’s highly sympathetic character development and skilled story building more than make up for my personal preferences. The series is still a winner.

Thank you to Tracy Gardner, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the 2nd installment in the Avery Ayers Antique mystery series.  Avery is on an assignment with her Father and their company appraising antiques for a friend of her Aunt Midge’s Nicholas Pennington (Duke of Valle Charme) who is in the process of selling the family estate in America.  Avery is excited to be working on such a unique assignment with her Father (who in the previous novel she thought was dead and he was in protective custody) along with their associates Micah and Sir Robert.  Immediately they sense something is off at the estate and some of the family members are very icy towards them and they soon find several expensive items either missing or fakes.  Then the housekeeper Suzanne is found dead after a fall from the roof.  The police cannot rule out suicide, however all indication is that this is murder.  Art Smith who was Avery’s love interest and they broke up has reached out to try and get back together and since he is a police detective he decides to go undercover as another member of Avery’s firm to protect her and her co-workers.  This was a good solid mystery with lots of family dynamics in not only Avery’s family (her sister returns from her first semester in London) and those of the Pennington family.  I really enjoyed this story and appreciated Avery’s honesty with Art and how they work their way back to each other.  Love the family dynamic and how well everyone works together and they help each other out.  I loved the first book and this one was just as good.  Looking forward to the next installment.
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Tracy Gardner involves Avery Ayers and her family appraisers in the antiques at Pennington Manor, the home of a ruling Duke of Valle Charme and his connections.  The Ayers find that antique items have been replaced by worthless copies and a staffer falls to her death.  Peril at Pennington Manor reaches out to the family and staff of the Duke and the appraisers.  Meanwhile Avery is trying to sort out her romantic relationships.  Great cozy.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The plot was a bit different from other cozies I've read.

Avery Ayers is an antique appraiser. This has been the family business for some time and she is very good at it. Now, Avery isn't just a working girl, there must be money somewhere in her family because her aunt lives in an apartment that sounds pretty spectacular in New York City overlooking Central Park. And she's good friends with a royal family from a small European country. In fact, it is thanks to Aunt Midge that Avery's family is appraising antiques for the Pennington family. While working on the appraisals, first a woman dies (is it suicide or murder? you already know the answer to that one) and a valuable watch is discover missing. Later they find that other valuable items have been replaced with forgeries.

Avery is pretty likable as a protagonist. She is fairly good at obeying commands ("Stay here!") although she does act on her curiosity at times. She has recently reconnected with an old boyfriend when she is thrown into the mystery which also has another former boyfriend working with the police on the case of the dead woman.

I found it interesting that the author talked about some of the methods used to authenticate an art item.

There is a subplot concerning Avery's sister Tilly who was attending school in England. (Why not as there's obviously enough cash in the family to pay for college there along with the airfare back and forth.) I don't think the subplot was at all necessary to the story. It never tied into the main storyline. 

This is obviously the second book in a series as there are many references to things that happened in the past in an attempt to explain some of the personal dynamics involved. And of course, you can't have a cozy mystery without knowing what everyone eats and wears. But those things for some reason didn't bother me as much in this book as it does in some others. Perhaps I was so engaged in the art thefts that I really didn't notice/mind the food and clothing.

I like Avery enough to want to read more of her adventures and hope that each book has a unique quality to it and doesn't just follow a formula for cozies.
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A beautiful castle located on the Hudson River, owned and used as a second home by the patriarch of a dysfunctional family of European aristocrats, is the setting for the second book in the delightful Avery Ayers Antique Mystery Series.

Avery Ayers, whose family owns an antique appraisal firm, is hired by Duke Nicholas (“Call me Nick.”) Pennington IV to appraise the many antiques in the castle so that they, along with the castle itself, may be sold, much to the chagrin of his adult son, Lord Percy. Mystery is in the air at the castle. When a woman named Suzanne, who works there as a housekeeper, falls or is pushed from a parapet, Avery teams up with the boyfriend with whom she recently broke up, to investigate Suzanne’s death which might well have been a homicide. 

Making murder even more likely, only a year before, another young woman named Tia who was also employed at the castle was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Meanwhile, while doing her appraisal work, Avery discovers that several of the Duke’s valuable antiques have been replaced by fakes. Soon, Avery and Art, along with Detective Carson, who is the lead police investigator on the case, are hot on the trail to try to solve what appears likely to be both a murder and a series of antiquity thefts.

Suspects, including family members and household staff, and possible motives abound. It seems that Duke Pennington’s sons, Lord Nico, the firstborn heir apparent, and his younger brother, Lord Percy, an apparent wastrel, have secrets that might implicate them in the crimes. Then there’s Lord Nico’s inscrutable wife, Lady Annabelle, with whom he shares two daughters, and the girls’ nanny, Gretchen, with whom Lord Nico may or may not be carrying on an affair. It’s also under consideration by the police that if Lord Nico had been carrying on an extramarital affair with Suzanne, it would give not only him, but also Lady Annabelle and Gretchen a motive to have murdered Suzanne.

Then there are the household staff, starting with the prickly Mrs. Hoffman, the cook, and her taciturn husband, also a household employee, who have for many years lived in a house on the castle grounds and will not only lose their jobs but have to leave their longtime home once the castle is sold. Other suspects include Lord Pennington’s driver, the groom who takes care of Lord Percy’s polo ponies, and 
Suzanne’s cousin Gregory Lightfoot.

The characters are interesting and there are several twists and turns in the well-developed plot. The only criticism I have is that there seemed to be an overabundance of characters such that some of them seemed underdeveloped and others seemed perhaps unnecessary to have been included in the book. That having been said, I very much enjoyed reading Peril at Pennington Manor and look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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This is the first book by this author that I have read.  I was misled by the cover and the name of the book, thinking that it was an historical cozy mystery but it’s not.  It is set in 2021. So I was a little disappointed as I usually only read historical books.  As I started to read I thought it might be good but found that there was everything but the solving of a murder and thief going on.  I was well over the story by the time I got halfway through the book. It just seemed to jump all over the place with no real direction. There were just too much of other things going on and the relationship the main character has with others was not well written.  I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and freely give my review.
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Another book that I should have given up on after the second chapter.  First off, you need to get used to choppy writing.  Second, I don’t know about others, but a main 20-something character that can’t decide between two men until she goes on a date, all the while trying to solve a murder, is wearing thin.  Then add a manor house in Hudson Valley, with an extensive collection of family heirlooms dating back centuries, which should take more than a few days to appraise.  

The first book in the series, Ruby Red Herring, was only a so-so-read for me.  Unfortunately, this book has put a final nail in the proverbial coffin.
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This is the sophomore installment in the Tracy Gardner’s antiques-themed mystery series. A friend of Aunt Midge has asked them to appraise his artifacts in his castle-like mansion.  Immediately, they discover a pocket watch missing and shortly thereafter a death.

I liked the relationships between the characters, the topic of plagiarism, and self-growth.  The characters are developing nicely, the love triangle is resolved, and the mystery is engaging.
I liked this book.  

The twists and turns were great!  I received an advanced copy from Netgalley and am not required to provide a positive review.
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Avery Ayers is an antique appraiser, along with her father William, and partners Micah Abbott and Sir Robert Lane.  They've been given the opportunity to appraise and inventory items throughout Pennington Manor, one of the duke's homes.  During the appraisals, Avery and Micah discover that there are fakes among them.  But before she can bring the duke this news, housekeeper Suzanne Vick falls to her death from the top of the manor.

Now there is a murder investigation, and Avery realizes that it could be any one of the household who pushed her.  Joining the group as part of their team is Detective Art Smith -- one time boyfriend of Avery's who wants to be so again -- and Avery is beginning to realize that she wants that, also.  But their relationship issues are on the back burner as they work to discover a killer -- any way they can -- before the murderer does so again.

Now they're wondering if the death is tied into the thefts, and if the previous housekeeper was part of it, too.  But with a household of disgruntled employees, and the duke's sons not happy, either, who is the killer?  Time is not on their side, but a killer lurks close by, and Avery may find herself in a permanent time out...

This is the second book in the series and I must say that I enjoyed it quite as much as the first.  It had a mystery that began almost at the beginning, which gave us time to garner clues and look for the killer.  But with the appraisers finding that many of the items have been stolen and replaced with fakes, they also have to find out who the originals were sold to, and who the party was who sold them,  This is going to take time, and in the meanwhile, Art and Avery are paired to quietly check out the household for clues.

In the subplots, Avery's sister Tilly is home from England with a secret to tell and a big decision to make; neither of which she is willing to come forward with as yet.  Avery is training for a 26 mile marathon, the longest she's ever done; and her relationship with Art is one again moving forward after he decides to open up to her.  Then there is a very cute addition, and one I love.

But I do love learning about antiques.  If I could afford it, I would have them in every room instead of just the ones my parents left me.  They have so much history to tell, and I love hearing about it as they go.  (Others might not, but I do).

When it gets toward the end, Avery and Art are close to finding the killer, but then an incident occurs that almost stops them until it is finally all put together and why.  One may never know what pushes a killer to do what they do, but it is sad in a way, yet a deranged mind will never be able to reason.  I did love this book as much as the first.  Ms. Gardner is indeed a talented writer and I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.
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Peril at Pennington Manor by Tracy Gardner. 
Book Two in the Avery Ayers Antique Mystery Series
Published by Crooked Lane Books

Avery Ayers and her team have been hired by Duke Nicholas Pennington to appraise the contents of his Manor House on the Hudson River. A priceless missing timepiece is only the beginning of their troubles and soon Avery finds herself involved in another murder investigation.

Tracy Gardner writes characters with depth and complicated relationships. I enjoyed seeing Avery and her family and friends continue to deal with past events and grow.
At times, these details weighed down the story and it took effort to keep track of clues and suspects involved in the mystery at the Manor, while still staying invested in all the actions and emotional developments in Avery's personal life. Despite this, I thought the story was well plotted, and moved at a nice pace.
I personally loved the detail into Avery and her family, For me, it did not detract from the breathtaking atmosphere of Pennington Manor and the mystery surrounding the titled family and staff who lived there. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
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This was a well-paced, fascinating mystery which taught me a lot about antiques and authenticity.  Avery’s “short” 12-mile runs in book 1 now make sense since she’s training for a marathon.  I loved the setting of the manor house with its priceless antiques and secret passages.  I also enjoyed getting to know Avery’s sister, Tilly.  Bonus points for the detective saving all the kitties!
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I loved the first book in this series and to be honest, I was afraid that was a one-off [as is the case with many of the new series I have started in the past few years], but I am here to tell you that it was as good, if not better than book one [I read this in two days, only stopping because I needed to sleep]. WHOOSH what a ride. 

Much like book one, this one is best going in blind. I knew almost nothing about this book when I requested it and I am glad I didn't go searching for plot lines as this was really great to read and discover things as the characters did. And these are some GREAT characters. I love Avery and how she handles life [there are some scenes that are right out of real life and how she handles what happens is so true-to-life and shows her maturity and grace] and the supporting characters are just perfect. 

The mystery is good and compelling and puzzling. My only complaint is that there were a ton of characters and I tended to forget who people were and I wish I had kept a list of characters when they appeared in the book [something I recommend to future readers], but this is so very minor. The reveal was good and a bit edge-of-your-seat and there were moments I really wondered where we were going to end up at the end. I didn't know the killer [though in a rare turn of events, I knew the why from almost the beginning, which should have clued me in to the who, but I was totally oblivious. HOW glorious] and I love when that happens - it really makes the book. 

I highly recommend this series - the writing is amazing, the mystery is very good and it leaves you wanting the next book ASAP.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tracy Gardner, and Crooked Lane Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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⭐⭐⭐⭐

What an entertaining little cozy this turned out to be! The writing was outstanding. I stood up well as a standalone. It was well paced. The plot was engaging. I would love to be an antiques and artifacts Appraiser! The plot kept me guessing with plenty of red herrings. There were a couple of side stories (Tilly's issues and the romance between Avery & Art) that I usually wouldn't be a fan of. I find they usually muddy the main plot and take away from the mystery aspect. However, I am happy to report that was not the case here! And the characters were plenty and likable (including some pet cuteness). Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I can't wait to see what these characters get up to in the next installment of this series. 

**Arc Via NetGalley**
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Dollycas’s Thoughts

Is Pennington Manor cursed?

Avery Ayers is about to find out.

She is surprised to learn that Aunt Midge is old friends with Nicholas Pennington, the Duke of Valle Charme. He is planning to sell his mansion on the Hudson River and Antiques and Artifacts Appraised has been awarded the assignment of cataloging and appraising a long list of antiques and valuable artwork. When the Duke attempts to show them his prize possession, a Viktor Petrova timepiece, they discover it is missing. Before they can even attempt to find it a scream rings out. Hurrying to find the source, they find the housekeeper, Suzanne Vick has fallen from the roof to her death . . . the same way the previous housekeeper died.

After Suzanne’s death, Avery determines several of the Duke’s prized heirlooms are missing and have been replaced by inferior copies. The suspects for the missing objects and the murder have to be either part of the Pennington family or their staff, but who? Avery with the assistance again from Detective Art Smith is going to do their best to find out before the thief/killer turns the tables on them.

After reading Ruby Red Herring I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Peril at Pennington Manor and author Tracy Gardner sure didn’t disappoint!

All of the characters I loved in the first book are back and joined by Avery’s dad, William. Avery and Tillie are so happy to have their dad back but they are all still dealing with the death of their mom. For William, it is still especially hard. I loved the way the author has written these characters. William hasn’t really had a chance to mourn his wife’s passing. Tillie has some issues at school abroad and Avery truly was carrying the weight of the business on her shoulders. These characters are true to life and feel so genuine. The supporting cast is so well-crafted too.

We meet several new characters that include the Duke of Valle Charme, his family, and his staff. All developed nicely over the course of the story. Many end up on the suspect list at one time or another giving a vast number of possibilities. They all reside in the fabulous Pennington Manor when they are in the States. The Old English style mansion has its own secrets and plenty of little nooks. It also has a huge pool and circular turret staircases. Outside you will find lily ponds, a greenhouse, perfectly manicured gardens, and a large stable full of horses. A wonderful setting for a mystery or two.

Ms. Gardner has written a delightful mystery with some really nice twists and turns to create moments of misdirection. Very well-plotted, I was kept guessing right up until the very end. The reveal was very exciting with some of our favorite characters finding themselves in peril.

The author also balances out the suspenseful moments with the exact amount of humor needed. Some of it delivered by a clowder of kittens and a majestic Afghan hound named Halston.

I was happy to see that Avery was able to take part in something she had worked hard for before the story drew to a close. Tillie also has a new opportunity and that Art and Avery’s relationship is growing.

Peril at Pennington Manor is a terrific follow-up to Ruby Red Herring. I do recommend reading the books in order because reading this book first reveals something very important that would be spoiled by reading this one prior to Ruby Red Herring.
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Another fun installment in the Avery Ames mystery series. This was a good mystery that kept me guessing. I also liked the secondary storyline with Avery's sister Tilly. Good read!
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This is the second book in the series and does well as a standalone, but I personally think a series is even better when read from the beginning. The setting for this book is unique and added an interesting twist to the story. The mystery is well done, holds your interest and keeps you guessing. The dynamics of the relationships among the characters is generally as much of an integral aspect of a cozy mystery as the mystery itself. This component of the storyline allows the reader to feel a more personal connection to the characters, their interactions and the struggles in those relationships. This was a very good second installment in the series!
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I loved this one. It had a perfect amount of characters and suspense. The setting also added to the story. I will definitely be going back to read the first in the series and looking forward to the next. Thanks to NetGalley for the privilege to read and review this book.
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I found the mix of an American background set on the Hudson river, aristocrats (unusual for America) and antique
business people with a penchant for mysteries all put together in an intriguing story.

The aristocrats are finally selling this manor (the one on the Hudson river) and they want all their antiques appraised
and valued for sale. To their dismay Avery and her associates discover right at the beginning firstly that most of the more
valuable pieces are fakes, and secondly that some are totally missing. Added to that when the housekeeper is murdered,
followed by another murder, and the story gets out about the previous housekeeper also being murdered and the story not
widely known and hushed up, Avery knows that trouble is afoot.

The story with the backdrop of antiques and the procedures that one followed in appraising them is a good one. It added a
depth and flavor to the story of murder and mystery and history of this particular family.
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