Julie Hyzy

August 7, 2015
Berkley Prime Crime

Marshfield Manor’s curator-slash-manager, Grace Wheaton, and her boss, Bennett Marshfield, have finally decided to undergo DNA testing to confirm that they’re related. Waiting for the results has Grace in knots, so the last thing she needs is more stress. Stress she gets, though, in the form of a high-profile antiques convention, a nosy FBI agent, a dead body, and a visit from her estranged sister Liza. Grace hasn’t seen Liza since she ran off with Grace’s fiancé, so her unannounced (solo!) appearance at Grace’s door is a shock—and in light of all that’s going on, there’s no way the timing is a coincidence.

I look forward to new Julie Hyzy books like I do Christmas presents—more so, maybe, because Hyzy’s books are never a disappointment. GRACE CRIED UNCLE is the sixth of Hyzy’s Manor House Mysteries, and I’m delighted (but not surprised) to report that it’s the strongest installment in the series to date. The pace is swift, the plot is fun, and the central mystery is marvelous—twisty and clever with numerous suspects, an exotic McGuffin, and a conclusion that both thrills and satisfies.

Hyzy’s character work is, as always, first-rate. Grace has never spoken charitably about her sister, but as it turns out, Liza is even more odious we were led to believe. Her hostility toward Grace is proof that blood ties aren’t always a blessing. On the flip side, the deep and abiding affection that binds Grace and Bennett (and will continue do to so, regardless of what the DNA test shows) beautifully illustrates the idea that sometimes the family you choose is more important than the one you’re born to. And I adore the way she’s transitioned nearly all of Grace’s former antagonists—Bennett’s spoiled stepdaughter Hillary, Grace’s nosy assistant Frances, greasy private detective Ronny, and cantankerous homicide detectives Flynn and Rodriquez—into staunch allies. Seeing them rally around Grace in her time of need will warm even the most cold and cynical of hearts.

Katrina Niidas Holm