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Fire Engine Dead
A Museum Mystery, No 3
Sheila Connolly

Berkley Prime Crime
March 2012/ ISBN: 978-4-425-24670-2
Mystery/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds

This is the third entry in the Museum Mystery series, and this time Nell Pratt, who is the president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society, gets involved with the Fireman's Museum. When an arsonist strikes warehouses in the area, many artifacts stored for the Fireman's Museum are destroyed.

Yet a picture remains. A photograph of an 1825 hand-pump engine - but the photo does not appear to be the same as Nell's records of the actual engine that burned up in the fire. Obviously there is mischief afoot beyond simple arson. When the FBI becomes involved with the arson case because a guard died and because of the unusual nature of the crime (arson against fire department storage), Nell's FBI sort-of-boyfriend turns to her for help. Help, that is, in the way of sharing her knowledge of artifacts and museum pieces. He clearly wants her to stay out of investigating the crimes of arson, murder, and perhaps fraud.

If you've been following this series, you know Nell won't just leave it at that. She uses her analytical mind to sort things out and help the FBI. I do enjoy this series because I learn a lot about the inner workings of museums. It can sometimes get a little tedious however, and I can't honestly say I enjoyed this book as much as I did "Let's Play Dead."

I read Connolly's other series, the Orchard Mysteries and enjoyed the first books in that series, only to find myself let down with later books. I wonder if Connolly gets a bit tired of her characters and stories by the third or fourth book and ends up using too much filler material, perhaps too much detail.

I certainly don't mean to pan the book. The series is based on a unique premise and setting. There are new characters to breathe life into the Museum Mysteries, and the book is not repetitive and can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read. In my opinion you are either going to enjoy the book because you love Connolly's writing style, or you may find yourself bogged down with the details. In the end, it's a matter of the reader's personal preference, so use your own judgment for this one.

Other reviews in this series

Let's Play Dead, No 2

Reviewer Laura Hinds is the author of Are You Gonna Eat That Banana?
Reviewed 2012
© 2012