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The merchant of Venus
Ellen Hart
Adult Fiction HART

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Minneapolis-based restaurateur-sleuth Jane Lawless is out of her element in this so-so mystery, the 10th in the series (after 1999's Hunting the Witch). Jane accompanies her best friend, Cordelia Thorn, to an isolated mansion on the Connecticut coast to attend the hastily arranged marriage of Cordelia's younger sister, Octavia, a Broadway actress, to 83-year-old Roland Lester, a reclusive millionaire movie director. Among the handful of friends and relatives in attendance is documentary filmmaker Ellie Saks, who is at work on a profile of the great director himselfÄone that threatens to reveal Hollywood secrets of yesteryear. When Roland collapses during the ceremony and dies shortly after of poisoning, suspicion falls on a number of the guestsÄnot least Octavia. Jane's sympathetic nature invites the confidences of others, and her understanding of human nature makes her good at putting the pieces of a mystery together. But the book suffers from a lack of a clear narrative focus, and the characters are clich‚dÄnone, except for the flamboyant Cordelia, quite comes alive. Uninterrupted stretches of dialogue and online research substitute for character development and investigation. What sets this book apart is the candor with which key characters deal with homosexuality and face the ugly ways they've behaved under the pressure of McCarthyism and the strict moral codes of the past. (Mar. 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Minneapolis restauranteur Jane Lawless (Hunting the Witch), best friend Cordelia, and Cordelia's sister Octavia visit NewYork City, where Octavia intends to marry an 80-year old, extremely rich film director. When they arrive, however, the director is missing, and Octavia becomes suspect number one. Another fascinating case for Lawless. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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