OUT OF THE PICTURE by TRACY GARDNER
*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.*
The story follows Savanna Shepherd, an art authenticator turned elementary school art teacher as she readjusts to life back home with her family. She is commissioned to paint a mural for a family friend, Caroline Carson. Strange events – an unexpected death, a suspicious accident, and a break-in - leave Savanna wondering if something more sinister might be occurring. With the help of her sisters and an attractive doctor, Savanna searches for the truth about these puzzling events.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, being new to both the author and to Hallmark Publishing. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised! This book is described as a “cozy mystery” and this description is a perfect fit for the book. The writing was fluid and I was interested in the story. It may have started out a tad slow, but never so much that I wanted to stop reading. For me, about ¾ of the way in was the real climax – the rest of the book flew by!
I really enjoyed the sisterly interactions of the three Shepherd sisters, although I did feel like the other two – Skylar and Sydney – had a bit more personality than Savanna, who could have been fleshed out a bit more, or at least earlier on in the story. I absolutely LOVED the art details and learning more about the different paintings and the authentication process. I also liked that the romance wasn’t a central part of the book and it was not overly cliché. The mystery portion was woven in nicely. There were a variety of suspects with enough of their own motives and incriminating evidence to keep me on my toes!
I did feel that the ending to this book needed a few more paragraphs. It felt slightly abrupt to me. There were also some typos I noticed, including “Mollie” suddenly getting spelled “Molly” once.
Overall, this was a pleasant, clean read. It appears to me like it’s set up to be a series. If so, I would definitely read the next one!