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Hearse and Gardens: 12/22/21
Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge and Vanessa Daniels (Narrator) is the second of the Hamptons Home & Gardens mystery series. Meg Barrett is helping her friend inventory a series of bungalows associated with the estate of art broker Harrison Falks. In one they find a skeleton inside a secret room.
The skeleton brings up a cold case of two missing people: a man and a woman who were believed to have left Montauk together twenty or so years earlier. They were believed to have stolen an Andy Warhol painting of Aquanet hairspray.
The missing Warhol painting did make me question the timeline. Assuming a "now-now" for the present day, then the body is found in approximately 2015 or 2016. Meg's friend would have been a child then in the mid 1980s. Warhol died in 1987. What I'm not sure of is how long the family had the painting before it went missing.
Another interesting subplot is a picture book Meg's friend was given as a child. It leads them on a series of treasure hunting capers in and around the mansion, bungalows, and grounds. The book serves as an interesting way of sliding in clues.
The overall mood of the book as well as the family dynamic (past and present) reminds me of The House of Brides by Jane Cockram (2019). There's also an atmospheric kinship to Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2020), minus the supernatural aspects, of course.
I happened to listen to the audiobook and for this particular volume the audio might not be for everyone. Vanessa Daniels tends to speed read the scenes. I'll admit I checked the speed I had my playback set to and it was 1:1 the entire time. I don't know if the narrator actually read the book that fast or if it was transcoded at a higher rate.
The third book is Ghostal Living (2017).