My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press, I received an e-copy of A Butterfly in Flame: A Fred Taylor Art Mystery by Nicholas Kilmer to review on my Kindle.
I had not read this series previously, and I'll admit, I found the first few chapters somewhat hard to follow, but I stuck with it and eventually got the characters straight and ended up enjoying the book.
Fred Taylor is summoned by his employer, Clayton Reed to meet with two men - Abe Baum, a lawyer, and Parker Stillton. At issue, is the fate of Stillton Academy, a small art school, hoping for collegiate accreditation by the state. A male instructor, Morgan Flower, and a female student have gone missing, and the academy wants the student found, especially since her father is the art academy's only significant donor.
Taylor agrees to go undercover as a substitute instructor for Flower's courses, with the further guise that he is also probing into the issue of accreditation for the academy. It is not long before Taylor sees that the academy's hope for accreditation is a joke, and no one seems overly concerned about the missing instructor or student. Flower's course seems a joke and Fred soon discovers plans for a posh real estate resort at Stillton in Flower's rooms. It also seems the acting president, Elizabeth Harmony and the board have cleared the board and academy of dissenters. It becomes clear that the board wants the academy to fail.
Then, the body of Rodney Somerfest, Harmony's predecessor, is found washed up nude on the beach, and it's clear he came to a violent end. Fred's boss is secretive but hints that there might be a significant work of art to be found at Stillton academy that he would love to claim. Fred discovers a postcard with a small piece of artwork he is sure belongs to Albert Bierstadt but could there be a more significant work of Bierstadt's on the academy grounds?
Fred soon finds himself investigating not one murder, but two while trying to pose as a passable teacher. Can he find the missing instructor and 18-year old student, solve two murders, and discover a hidden piece of art before Stillton Academy is forced to close forever?
I enjoyed this mystery and the pace of the action though it took me awhile to get into the story. I would read another book in this series.
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