A Brush with Murder

A Watercolor Mystery

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Pub Date 30 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 30 Jul 2022

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Description

Jane Roland and her painter friends are enrolled in a watercolor retreat at the picturesque Gardens and Horses Resort. They're looking forward to a week of sun-drenched landscapes, sleek racehorses, art instruction, and—best of all—laughter and conversation.

Out for their first stroll, the women discover a thoroughbred in the pretty reflecting pool. Next evening, they find the handsome young stable man in the horse watering trough. Surely, there's a link between them?

When a painter from their workshop goes missing, Jane realizes that her class notes are valuable clues to catch the culprit in this light-hearted cozy mystery.

Jane Roland and her painter friends are enrolled in a watercolor retreat at the picturesque Gardens and Horses Resort. They're looking forward to a week of sun-drenched landscapes, sleek racehorses...


A Note From the Publisher

Gail Langer Karwoski is the author of "The Wedding Heard 'Round the World; America's First Gay Marriage", as well as fourteen books for young readers. Her award-winning juvenile novels include "Seaman, the Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark" and "Quake! Disaster in San Francisco, 1906". Gail also wrote the acclaimed bedtime story, "Waterbeds, Sleeping in the Ocean". When Gail isn't at her keyboard, you can find her painting with watercolors. Or reading cozy mysteries.

Gail Langer Karwoski is the author of "The Wedding Heard 'Round the World; America's First Gay Marriage", as well as fourteen books for young readers. Her award-winning juvenile novels...


Advance Praise

"A new series is off to a galloping start with this artful murder mystery. Jane Roland and her Tuesday painting group friends are the coziest group of sleuths south of Three Pines." -Susan Vizurraga, author of Miss Opal's Auction

"An intriguing blend of art, horses and murder, Gail Langer Karwoski's debut cozy mystery will keep readers guessing and turning pages to the very end." -Donny Bailey Seagraves, author of Gone From These Woods

"A new series is off to a galloping start with this artful murder mystery. Jane Roland and her Tuesday painting group friends are the coziest group of sleuths south of Three Pines." -Susan Vizurraga...


Available Editions

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ISBN 9781684339747
PRICE $5.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 18 members


Featured Reviews

I felt rather like I was losing my new best friends as the book ended. I wanted to get in the car and go home with Jane and her friends. I miss them already, even the rowdy, energetic mischief maker dog Tillie. In other words, author Karwoski was successful in world building with, oh, so likable, relatable characters we'd all like to know even if, as one observed, this vacation week was a bit like living in a crime novel. The setting, the Gardens and Horses Resort, sounded enchanting and even though it's been years since I picked up a paint brush, I found myself jotting down some of the watercolor hints shared within.

Unfortunately, the friends' retreat begins with them stumbling cross a horse dead in a reflecting pool. To be honest, as a horse nut from way back, I almost passed up this book when this was mentioned in the blurb but am glad I didn't. Although saddening, with much more of the dark side of horse racing revealed as the book progressed, this scene was quickly lost in the rest of the action. A groom is found nearly drowned in a horse water trough, then one of the workshop attendees is found dead. Are the three scenes connected? Jane, who prides herself a bit on her orderliness, had already started a journal to help her sort out who was who among the workshop participants and slips into the mode of registering everything she observes or senses, too, sharing her notes with the police. I admired her ability to keep her head when the others were otherwise distracted, whether by flirtations or Donna's disturbing habit of fainting when stressed. There are multiple suspects, side stories, and red herrings, not to mention that the three events may or may not be related. In the process, however, the friends attend the painting sessions and it was fascinating to hear their virtual work being dissected with hints of how to create certain watercolor techniques or improve on others. They're being taught to see, really see, what is in front of them. If you're an artist, you'll find these sections fascinating, I'm sure.

As the friends observe, however, it's much easier to solve a mystery in a book than it is in real life. All have input and helpful observations, observations Jane carefully records and shares. Jane's own research into the use of drugs in horse racing was eye-opening, especially after a real-life race winner was disqualified and his trainer banned. Jane's growing fascination with solving the mystery, even to the point where she jots down the ABC's of detectives, ie assume nothing, believe no one, and check everything, seems to grow. Her friendship with Officer Goode was interesting and although they live in different areas, I'm hoping he'll pop up again in future books. It's always nice to see the police and amateur sleuth acting with mutual respect rather than the more usual conflict that so often pops up in mysteries.

Bottom line, if you haven't already guessed, I loved this book and was delighted to see a preview for the next in the series at the end. Phew, that relieves my fear this might be a one shot mystery from the author. I also appreciated the suggestions for Book Club discussions included. I think my favorite asked how their painting styles reflected personalities, which made me rethink the book a bit more. Lovely writing, lyrical at times, awash in painting references, and an intricate mystery all packaged with lovely watercolor paintings now awash in my mind's eye.

Thanks to #NetGalley and #BlackRoseWriting for inviting me to attend this lovely workshop with Jane, Donna, Grace, Pam, and Tillie. I'm looking forward to the next adventure. This one is a winner.

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murder, murder-investigation, law-enforcement, resort-hotel, family, friendship, amateur-sleuth, artist, attempted-murder****

Great story, great characters, fine mystery. But this retired RN was grinding teeth at most of the medical info. I'm sure that it was all fine for those not in the business.
The main characters are a small group of longtime friends who are there for the lessons, live a couple of hours away, and share an interest in watercolor painting. The Gardens and Horses Resort is a very high-end facility complete with stables and a semi-resident artist who holds retreats with classes in watercolor painting. An important part of the classes is instructing the artists to really pay attention to what they're seeing in an in-depth manner and remember it all. Despite the beautiful setting, things go badly in short order, including two ladies who wind up in hospital due to chronic health conditions. The first death was a racing thoroughbred horse, but it didn't stop there. The mystery is well done, and both the plot twists and red herrings are creative.
I requested and received a free e-book copy from Black Rose Writing via NetGalley. Thank you!

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This ARC was provided to me via Kindle, Black Rose Writing and by #NetGalley. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

Another lovely cozy mystery series! Delightful characters, quaint town, suspenseful and entertaining story.

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Lots of twists and turns will keep you guessing. Great characters. A group of friends are at The Garden and Horses Retreat for painting lessons. Beautiful descriptions of the scenes, but alas! Murder comes along. A solid mystery. Thanks #netgalley and #BlackRoseWriting for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

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When a group of friends heads off to a painting retreat, they stumble across a dead horse, not quite the landscape they were looking for. When they stumble across a body the next day, they’re convinced the two discoveries are connected.

While the friends try to figure out what happened and who killed the horse and man, they find their class, from which a student has gone missing, may hold the key to helping them solve the murders.

This is a fabulous and a strong start to a new series. The characters are relatable and I adore that they admit solving a crime is much easier in a book the it is in real life. I’m looking forward to much more in this series as it has a very promising future.

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A new delightful cozy mystery series: quaint setting, quirky characters, and a solid mystery.
It kept me hooked as it's a compelling and enjoyable read.
Can't wait to read the next one.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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A Brush with Murder by Gail Langer Karwoski has three women from Georgia heading to a painting retreat at the luxurious Gardens and Horses Resort. After checking in, the ladies decide to explore the grounds. They look in the reflecting pool to see a dead thoroughbred. Their plein air watercolor retreat begins the next day. One of the men from the stables agrees to give them a tour at the end of the day. The ladies arrive at the stables to find the man dead in a horse trough. Jane Roland believes the two cases are connected. She takes the class roster and begins keeping detailed notes about each person. When one of their fellow classmates turns up missing and is later found in the lake, Jane feels her observations could help catch the culprit. A Brush with Murder is the debut of A Watercolor Mysteries. The author provides a Class List at the beginning of the book (a list of all the characters). There are a number of characters so it can be difficult to keep them all straight. The author is a detailed descriptive writer. She likes to tell you what each person looks like (hair coloring, demeaner, clothing) as well as descriptions of the gardens, artwork, food, etc. This type of detail does slow down the pacing of the story. The book moves at a leisurely pace as the characters enjoy the watercolor class, tour the grounds, eat their meals, and socialize. The mystery is not at the forefront of the story. I wish it had been more prominent (with Jane searching for clues). The death of the horse was disturbing, and it happened in the first chapter. The details gave Jane and her friends nightmares as well as me. There are several suspects, but one individual stands out. I struggled to finish A Brush with Murder. The pacing is so slow plus (I am sorry) it was boring. There was no action or lively activity. I did find some details to be off (when you find yourself saying that they never mentioned this or when did this happen you know something is off or left out). A Brush with Murder is more cozy than mystery. I liked that the main characters were older (in their 60s). It is nice that they are close friends, so they know each other’s quirks and habits. One of my favorite characters was Maggie, a fifteen-year-old with a domineering grandmother. Maggie is a talented artist who loves horses. A Brush with Murder is a lighthearted tale with plein air painting, gorgeous gardens, a retreat romance, suspicious passings, health happenings, essential notes, and a curious watercolorist.

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Jane Roland and her painter friends are enrolled in a watercolor retreat at the picturesque Gardens and Horses Resort. They're looking forward to a week of sun-drenched landscapes, sleek racehorses, art instruction, and—best of all—laughter and conversation.

Out for their first stroll, the women discover a thoroughbred in the pretty reflecting pool. Next evening, they find the handsome young stable man in the horse watering trough. Surely, there's a link between them?

When a painter from their workshop goes missing, Jane realizes that her class notes are valuable clues to catch the culprit in this light-hearted cozy mystery.
The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.

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I've recently commissioned my artist sister to paint several things for my house, so a painting-themed mystery was on point. Four friends, who all belong to the same local painting group, go to an artistic retreat together. Unfortunately, the friends find that murder can happen even in the most beautiful of places. What I liked about the book: the four women are all middle-aged or late middle aged, with grown children (if they have children; Jane Roland, our POV in this novel, doesn't have children), which is where I am in life now. They are active people, pursuing their interests, and not obsessed with youth or trying to regain their youth, which is refreshing. The circumstances of how the amateur detectives are drawn into the investigation are realistic; I hate farfetched plot devices to get the amateur detective involved. The watercolor retreat is not sidelined by the investigation; our heroines continue to attend workshops and pursue their intent, rather than get sidelined to throw everything into pursuing the mystery, and the watercolor tips they learn certainly read as legitimate. The police were treated with respect by our amateurs, who gave them information and never tried to interfere--hooray! In fact, I loved that when Jane suddenly realized the key to solving the murder, she immediately texted the sheriff. I enjoyed that the final confrontation with the murderer took place out of the reader's view, and we were told about it through the women talking about it afterwards. Great way to move the denouement along and wrap the story up. Things I wasn't so happy about: some of the characterizations of the women made them seem too one-dimensional: Jane is too organized and calm, Donna is too dotty and silly. I'd have liked a little more nuance to their characters as perfect characters are very boring to me. Some of the comments the women said to each other were verging on snarky. and I'm tired of snark and putdowns and even subtle means masquerading as supposed wit or cleverness. So what if Donna wears a bright orange beret? The name of the retreat, Gardens and Horses, felt distinctly at odds with the hoity-toity, elite horse racing community it represents. Something like Magnolia Springs or some other more evocative and snobby name would have worked better to underscore the ritzy country club atmosphere; this sounds like a plant nursery for someone with no imagination. Someone needs to tell the author that black labs don't have fur that your can tousle atop their heads; they have a short coat; minor quibble, but it irked me. And for goodness' sake, if Donna is always fainting because of her high blood pressure, she needs to see a doctor stat and be put on appropriate medication! It looks like this might be the first in a new series, and sometimes it takes the author a while to get the feel of her characters, especially when she's juggling 4 main characters, as Ms. Karwoski is here. This is light read, heavy on horses (not my personal interest) but pleasant summer reading and it shows promise. I'm interested in the characters enough that if a second book appears, I'll read it.

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