Cover Image: A Wealth of Deception

A Wealth of Deception

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is such a great series. I felt like I was waiting AGES for this second book, as I loved the first one so much. This picks up more or less where that one left off, whilst also providing enough background information that you can easily pick this up if you've not read the first and you won't feel wrong-footed about the characters or place.

Quite a lot happens in this one and there are a lot of strings that need to come together. Edie is a great character, and she, along with her Uncle Tuck and assistant Kala, are pulled into another murder, this time around a mysterious artist known only as Vespa, who creates dark, mysterious collages, and has become a late-in-life sensation because of them.

Something about a collage Edie spots at an estate sale sparks further investigation, and she unravels a n underground art ring, which includes Russian mafia and the exploitation of an intellectually challenged man. There is plenty of information about antiques and the art world, and although it's not really something I enjoy in real life, I love learning about these sorts of things from people who are obviously passionate about them and have the expertise and knowledge to impart.

Will definitely be keeping my eye out for the next in the series. Recommended.

Was this review helpful?


Trish Esden’s novel, A Wealth of Deception, takes readers on a thrilling journey into the art world, where secrets and danger lurk beneath the surface. When Edie Brown, a Vermont antique and art dealer, stumbles upon a dark collage by the elusive artist Vespa, she unwittingly opens a Pandora’s Box of deception that leads her down a treacherous path.

Teaming up with her companions, Uncle Tuck and Kala, Edie embarks on an investigation into the origins of the collage. However, their discoveries only reveal secrets more disturbing than the artwork itself. As Edie delves deeper into the authenticity of the piece, she finds herself entangled in an art underground where some are willing to kill to protect their hidden schemes.

Esden skillfully crafts a diverse and intriguing cast of characters against the backdrop of a breathtakingly beautiful setting. The plot is fast-paced and filled with twists and turns, leaving readers with more questions than answers. The mystery at the heart of the story is solid and keeps readers engaged throughout.

One aspect that stands out is the portrayal of the side characters in the book. They add depth and flavor to the story, enhancing the overall reading experience. However, despite its many strengths, one drawback is the main character, Edie. There is an unlikable quality about her that is hard to ignore. It feels as though she prioritizes personal gain over empathy, showcasing a callousness that can be off-putting.

Despite this minor flaw, A Wealth of Deception is a captivating addition to the series. The writing is excellent, and the book maintains a relentless pace that keeps readers hooked from beginning to end. Fans of mystery novels will appreciate Esden’s ability to create an immersive world filled with intrigue and suspense.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this installment in the series and eagerly anticipate the next book. Esden’s talent for storytelling shines through, making A Wealth of Deception a must-read for fans of thrilling mysteries.

**ARC Via NetGalley**

Was this review helpful?

Scandal Mountain Vermont art and antique dealer Edie Brown has a lot of her plate – her art forger mother is in prison, she has bills that need paying and an overflowing septic system that has to be repaired.

Then she finds a piece of art, a dark collage, potentially created by “outsider” artist Vespa. If Edie can determine its provenance, could her money woes be over? But the hunt leads down a path of danger with connections that wouldn’t hesitate to eliminate anyone threatening their art scheme.

While there was a good mystery to this, I found it hard to connect with the characters. For me, there were stereotypical aspects to the bad guys and some of the secondary characters weren’t fully developed enough to be intriguing. I didn’t race to get back to reading this book.

Was this review helpful?

A Wealth Of Deception by Trish Eden

Danger,,,,,,,, art and a touch of romance collide in Trish Eden’s second, exquisitely crafted, Scandal Mountain Antiquas mystery

I enjoyed reading this novel. Many unique characters and I liked it being set in Vermont. Erie marched forward in her career, despite her Mom going to jail for art theft.

Thanks to Net Galley for sending me an advanced reader’s copy for my review.

Was this review helpful?

A cleverly crafted mystery and I love the cover!
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Was this review helpful?

Southeastern Vermont is the home of a number of antique shops. It is also the site of a 10-year-old unsolved murder. Edie Brown, the manager of an antique store, finds herself in the middle of that murder as she seeks to discover the provenance of a collage created by an outsider - a relatively new artist arising outside the traditional art scene.

Scandle Mountain Fine Arts and Antiques had been started a number of years earlier by Edie’s mother. Now her mother sat in prison charged and convicted of copying and selling forged works of art. Scandle Mountain Fine Arts and Antiques’ reputation was quickly falling as was its financial stability. If Evie and her friends could prove the provenance of the collage, much of that reputation and financial problems might be corrected. But could they do it before the Russian mob would kill Evie and friends.

The second book in a series focused on Evie and her store - this reader could not put the book down. LGBTQ+ friendly and full of lovely descriptions of the Vermont countryside, the book will make one want to take a summer or fall trip to the area. The characters seemed real, the art scene was of interest, and there was enough suspense and mystery to hold the attention of many. I give the book five-stars.


This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.

Was this review helpful?

I am a big fan of art heist books, fiction or non, so was excited to read this one. Second in a series, it is not necessary to read book one to get the cast of characters and setting in A Wealth of Deception. While the antique store and main character's background make for a good setting for a cozy mystery series, I wasn't wowed by this one. The plot and secondary characters were a little one dimensional. Hopefully if there's a book three, it will add some substance to the players.

Was this review helpful?

This tale is set in Vermont and it is the second in a series by Trish Esden. It features antique and art dealer, Edie Brown and it can be read as a standalone. A well-told story that I really enjoyed. Highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

Was this review helpful?

Set in Vermont a whole enclave of art galleries and art and antiques form the background
for this modern day story of espionage, mafia and down to earth cheating in the complicated
art world.

The second in this series that I had the good fortune to get my hands on.

Edie Brown is battling to save the family gallery from going under. Her mother's arrest
and consequent jail time hasnt helped their reputation, egged on by rival galleries
determined to see them go under. Edie needs funds just for daily work, and when a "Vespa"
painting turns up, it seems like an answer to a prayer. Considered a modern Grandma Moses,
the artist herself remains elusive.

Working with Kala and her Uncle Tuck and boyfriend Police Detective Shane should be enough
protection for Edie but her snooping for information and unravelling clues from the nearby
retirement home ruffles a number of feathers which would prefer to let sleeping dogs lie, including a murder going back twenty years.

Very well told, in sequence the story was not disjointed despite several strands having to
be brought togetger.

Was this review helpful?

After reading The Art of the Decoy, the first book in the Scandal Mountain Antiques series by Trish Esden, I wasn’t sure about the direction of the series. I walked away from that first book with mixed feelings but was curious to see what would happen next now that the cast and world had been mostly set.

A Wealth of Deception takes place a couple of months following The Art of the Decoy. Edie’s family business is still facing financial problems, and when the chance to get first dibs on an estate sale lands in her lap, she can’t turn down the opportunity.

While reviewing the estate’s contents, she finds a piece of art that appears to be from an up-and-coming hot artist, but while trying to authenticate the piece, she stumbles into a complex mystery.

I’m not sure why I was surprised, but once again, the mystery in this book is not a murder. Granted, there is an adjacent murder that kind of ties in, but it’s not the focus. I mentioned in my review of The Art of the Decoy that it was refreshing to have a cozy mystery that wasn’t a murder mystery, and it holds true once again. There were so many twists and turns to keep me turning the pages.

I felt the story started out pretty slow but finally picked up about a third of the way through the book. Initially, I got a ton of random information that felt out of place. In the end, it worked into the story, but I was disoriented, and it took me a while to really warm up to the story.

A Wealth of Deception is a solid second installment in this series. I am really enjoying this series’s focus on art and look forward to revisiting this small town in Vermont again in the future.

Was this review helpful?

A Wealth of Deception is the second in the Scandal Mountain Antiques mystery series. This book can be read as a stand alone.

I found this book to be very interesting. Not as familiar with the art or antiques scene, it was a fascinating look behind the scenes for art and antique appraisers and dealers. There is already a bit of mystery and investigation that goes along with dealing in antiquities and art. Trying to determine provenance, value and authenticity of works they may come into possession of.

Our main character, Edie Brown, takes it up a notch in this novel though. While appraising a collection for a women whose mother recently passed away, Edie finds a piece of art which looks strangely like something from a very famous reclusive outsider artist. However, the owner of the piece, swears it was made in art therapy by her brother who was left disabled after an accident and is living in assisted living. Edie cannot let it go though, something is going on, could this work be a forgery? But, her investigation into the background of this piece is putting herself and others into danger.

This book felt very much like a cozy mystery, with the main difference being that the mystery our amateur sleuth is trying to solve is who really is behind this work of art, rather than trying to solve a murder. Although, there is some of that too.

There is some romance for our main character. Edie is seeing a police detective, who used to be her probation officer, gasp. She thinks she wants to keep it just casual, but maybe she has deeper feelings than she wants to admit. Edie plays an integral role in helping law enforcement, and Shane, solve this mystery. I like the dynamic where our sleuther is in a relationship with someone from law enforcement and there is a bit of that push and pull, there is some sharing of information, but also trying to keep some boundaries.

I really enjoyed this story. It was a face-paced captivating story. I loved the trio of Edie, her Uncle Tuck, and their shop assistant working together to solve this mystery. They are all great characters.

Was this review helpful?

Fascinating tidbits about the art world and collecting illuminate and drive this story, Just enough flawed quirkiness make the characters three dimensional and interesting. The redolent whiff of scandal attached to Scandal Mountain Antiques threatens their overall viability. An opportunity in outsider art presents itself and Edie Brown must take the chance.....leading to potential loss of reputation.. or life itself

Was this review helpful?

Although Edie’s family operates an antique business, this well-written story highlights her background and connections with the art world as she tries to determine whether she has discovered a true masterpiece or the work of a copycat.

Edie is a great character. She isn’t perfect, a fact made immediately clear from her arrest record and her family’s checkered past. She is smart, and cautious yet bold at the same time. With the help of her Uncle Tuck and Kala’s, who has some specialized computer skills, Edie pieces together the puzzle and brings the truth to light. The book is well paced, with a variety of twists along the way. There were some aspects of the resolution that I saw coming, but not the resolution in total.

Whereas the first book in this series had a more cozy vibe, this one is more intense. The subject matter – both in the collage and throughout the story – leans to the dark side, while drawing attention to the potential for post-traumatic stress for witnesses to violent crime.

Was this review helpful?

I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Wealth of Deception (Scandal Mountain Antiques #2) by Trish Esden from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…Replete with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, this entry was an entertaining read…

Having read and reviewed Trish Esden’s first book, The Art of Decoy I am pleased to say the second in the Scandal Mountain Antiques series didn’t disappoint. Picking up where The Art of Decoy left us, Edie, Tuck and Kaya are struggling to keep Scandal Mountain Fine Arts and Antiques above water when they receive a desperate plea from a local, Annie, to give an appraisal and purchase a few items from an estate. Needing a boost, they jump at the chance, hoping for some hidden gems that could bring in some quick cash. When pursuing through the items Edie notices what looks like a collage from the artist Vespa, who is heating up the art scene with her “outsider art.” Annie is embarrassed by the dark piece and claims the collage was made by her brother Erik in a rehabilitation program for those with traumatic brain injury. When Edie begins to question the provenance of the collage the mystery begins to surface but when clues begin to emerge depicting something more nefarious Edie puts herself in the crosshairs of a murderer and scandal that puts her and everyone she loves in danger.

I love art and I love mysteries, combining this with technology and romance and this was right up my alley. Replete with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, this entry was an entertaining read. Although slow building it paid off with a nail-biting climax and heartwarming ending. I enjoyed the book and cannot wait to read more in this series, I highly recommend it.

Was this review helpful?

Dollycas's Thoughts

We are back at Scandal Mountain Fine Arts and Antiques. “Nestled in the foothills of Mount Mansfield . . . just south of the Canadian border" and Edie has found a very unique piece of art with a huge mystery to be solved. Is it a work by Vespa, a reclusive "outsider" artist? or has been created by someone trying to copy Vespa's style? Edie is immediately drawn to the work and hopes to work together with her Uncle Tuck and their tech-savvy employee Kala to find answers to her questions. If it truly is a Vespa it could mean a big addition to the shop's coffers and they really need that right now. That is if Edie isn't killed first!


Like the first book in this series, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and pulls the reader right into the story.

The main characters in this series are so well-crafted. Edie is driven to save the family business and make the repairs necessary. She is a risk taker and like a dog with a bone to uncover the secrets of the mysterious collage. While she hopes her efforts pay off she truly wants to help some of the people enveloped in the mystery. Tuck has Edie's back and is a calming influence. He knows when to jump in and when to back off and let Edie take the lead. Their relationship is genuine and heartwarming. We find out more about Kala in this story but there is so much more buried deeply within the girl with access to the dark web and her "friends" she reaches out to for more information. With Kala living with Tuck and Edie, they are quickly becoming family. We also have Detective Shane Payton. Edie's "friend with benefits". There is plenty of romantic tension between them with the possibility of a future but he was a little shady in this story.

Ms. Esden introduces several new characters that are caught up in the Vespa conundrum. Each is unique in their own way and with their own secrets. I was surprised by the depth of the scheme created. I enjoyed the way Edie, Tuck, and Kala researched and tracked down each clue. The author did a brilliant job of describing what her characters did and where they went, I felt like a little bird on their shoulders as they examined each find and plotted it out in a way that made sense. There was definitely a lot of moving parts in this story. And someone definitely didn't want Edie nosing around their business. As the clues started to fall into place the pages on my Kindle were flying.

I also enjoyed the author's narration of each piece of art Edie viewed. The collages, the NFT digital works, and other pieces all came alive in my mind. I also enjoyed the behind-the-scenes knowledge I gained in this small part of the art world. Like after reading The Art of the Decoy, I felt smarter after reading this book, especially about outsider artists and fantastic collages.

I must take time to applaud Ms. Esden. The young man featured in this story is intellectually disabled after being hit by a car. This person had people taking advantage of him and Edie was his champion. She was patient and soothing and gentle as she tried to gain knowledge to help him. My daughter has worked for over 15 years at a facility taking care of people just like him so I know how hard of a job that is and that it takes a special individual to hold that job. Edie had the instinct some people take years to learn and most never get it. It made me like her more than I already did.

A Wealth of Deception is a fascinatingly complex mystery with incredible characters. I am hooked! I am anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.

Was this review helpful?

A Wealth off Deception is the second book in the Scandal Mountain series. This is the first book I have read in the series. It is full of information from the first and could be a stand-alone read.

Edie and her Uncle Tuck head over to Annie's to do an appraisal for her and possibly purchase items for their shop. Once there Edie spots a piece of art that she is pretty sure it is an original Vespa. Edie inquires casually as to keep the excitement out of her voice and is told it was a craft project made by her brother, Edie is not so sure. She and Uncle Tuck leave and Edie starts to research more about Vespa and the pieces created by her.

Edie and Tuck’s team includes a young woman named Kala and is a tech wiz. Her ability to research helps Edie learn more about the artist and leads to a possible hit and run accident that occurred years ago.

Edie and Jimmy go to an art showing focusing on Vespa which adds more questions than it answers. While there Edie is almost a victim herself of a hit and run. Someone is afraid Edie is getting too close to the truth. But Edie is only more intrigued and will stop at nothing until she gets to the truth about the art and artist.

This story is light and entertaining with its quirky cast of characters. There are many twists and turns as you would expect in a cozy mystery as this.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely enjoyed reading every bit of this book. Fantastic storytelling, likable characters and a mystery to keep one guessing till the end.

By chance, Edie stumbles across a collage in an old lady's house - she's passed away and her daughter wants to clear all the junk before listing the house for sale. Edie is asked to come and take a look at the items and pick what she thinks she could sell at her family-run antiques store. Edie and her uncle, Tuck, visit the place, and while in the old lady's bedroom, Edie feels she's missing the big picture. Turns out, she was about to miss a literally 'big picture' - a collage done by Vespa, a reclusive artist.

As Edie enquires about the collage, the (deceased) lady's daughter says it was painted by her sibling. But Edie is pretty sure the work is that of Vespa - it even has a signature at the bottom, an inverted 'V'. With the help of Uncle Tuck and Kala (who works at their antique store), Edie starts digging deeper into the mysterious collage and the reclusive Vespa.

She discovers something sinister - an art scam. The people behind the scheme know Edie's out to get them and they are willing to stop her... for good.

As the story proceeds, the mystery behind Vespa's identity gets murkier. We also have Edie wanting to talk to the man who created the painting - but it's not that easy to talk to him. He's known for his temper and Edie is warned to be careful.

Coming to Edie's personal life - things are going smoothly; almost. Her 'friends with benefits' relationship with Shane is going steady. The store, not so much.

I also loved the bond that Shane and Edie share. Though FWB, it is pretty clear they like each other a lot. Another character who caught my attention was Kala - she's just twenty-one but a master hacker, problem solver, and much more.

Overall, this was an engrossing, interesting and unique mystery. I am looking forward to reading more of Edie's adventures. If you love antiques and art, you might want to give A Wealth of Deception by Trish Esden a try.

Was this review helpful?

Edie Brown is desperate to save her family business Scandal Mountain Antiques. It gets harder when she learns that the whole septic system needs to be replaced. When they get a chance to look over things left by an elderly lady, Edie is hoping from things that she can sell quickly and for a good profit. She isn't expecting to find a collage that looks like it has been created by the latest outsider sensation in the art world - Vespa.

The lady selling the things insists that the collage was created by her brother who suffered a traumatic brain injury some years earlier. This sends Edie, her Uncle Tuck, and assistant Kala on a hunt to discover if the brother has just been influenced by Vespa or if there is a hidden conspiracy.

The story was fast-paced and interesting. I like Edie who is dealing with her own past issues and trying to do the right thing for her family. I liked the way the story wove in art collecting, the Russian mob, and Edie's own romance with a police officer who is keeping secrets from her.

Was this review helpful?

Edie's antique business, more or less inherited from her mother who is in prison for fraud, is struggling more than a little but she's working hard. So she's met interested when she's surprised by a collage she's certain was made by outsider arstist Vespa on Annie's wall. Annie insists it's not but Edie's sure so she enlists Kala, a tech savvy assistant to do research. And then things get complicated and dangerous so they, along with Uncle Tuck, find themselves dodging a murderer and trying to answer some old questions. While it's the second in a series, it will be entirely enjoyable as a standalone. As a bonus I learned a bit. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read.

Was this review helpful?

I truly enjoyed this book, the second in a series featuring antiques dealer Edie Brown, whose business is on the brink of collapse. Her mother is in jail for art fraud and Edie is a convicted felon herself, having (unintentionally) sold stolen art to an undercover agent. This series set up happens in book one, The Art of the Decoy (2022). I was able to jump right in with little trouble, though I do want to go back and read the first book.

The book opens with a description of what it means to be an “outsider” artist (think Grandma Moses). For the novel, Esden creates an outsider artist named Vespa, an elderly woman whose disturbing, complicated collages have taken the art world by storm. When Edie and her uncle Tuck head over to do an appraisal and purchase a few items from a woman named Annie, Edie is surprised to see what she thinks in an original Vespa on the wall. Annie is clearing out her mother’s house, and insists the work is her brother’s “craft project.”

Edie isn’t so sure, and she and her uncle leave with a few pieces to sell but with many questions. More urgently, back at the shop slash home, the septic tank in the back yard has overflowed and Edie and the business simply don’t have the necessary funds to repair and replace it. One of the threads in the book is simply wondering how Edie will keep her antiques business afloat, but the strongest thread is the mystery of the collage on Annie’s wall.

Park of Edie and Tuck’s team is a young woman named Kala, who basically works for room and board and is luckily something of a tech genius. Her research skills prove invaluable. As Edie investigates Vespa’s origins as well as the life story of Annie’s brother, a brain damaged man who lives in a nursing facility, she begins to uncover what she thinks might be the truth.

The deaths that occur in this novel are in the past, but as the story progresses there’s no doubt someone is after Edie as several different events take place. However, it is truly a mystery novel, as Edie uses her skills as an antique and art expert – calling on other experts when needed – to solve this case and to figure out exactly what’s going on with Vespa’s collages. Esden has put together a complex and fascinating story with the backdrop of the antiques market in all its many incarnations, from Christie’s to the type of local antiques store owned by Edie and her family.

This novel has a light, fun tone that’s underpinned with a bit of darkness, moving the book into what I think of as a “hard” cozy – there are cozy elements, but many of the themes aren’t so cozy. (Some examples of “hard” cozy writers would include Ellen Hart, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Paula Munier and Paige Shelton with her Alaska series). The characters are well delineated and interesting, and I learned a bit more about art and a good way to look at and approach a work of art, thanks to a call Edie has with her mother about three quarters of the way through the novel. This was a fun read, making me eager for more in this series.

Was this review helpful?