Book of the Day
Clouds Over Bishop Hill
Midwest Writing Center Press
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Shelley Anderson is just passing through her hometown of Bishop Hill, a historic site where most of the population is of Swedish descent, and half of them are named Anderson. En route from finishing her Bachelor’s degree in art history to getting accepted into a good Master’s program as far away from Bishop Hill as possible, Shelley plans to take a summer job at the local art museum and pay a farewell visit to her adoptive parents.
But then Shelley is run off the road by centenarian Pearl Anderson (no relation), which forces her to stop at the nearby Varnishtree Antique Market, where together, she and Pearl find the murdered body of craftsman Herb Anderson (no relation to either of them). Later, Pearl confides in Shelley about a vision she has been having: a memory from her childhood of a 1915 painting being done by Olof Krans, a famous local artist, right before his death. Pearl begs Shelley to locate it.
When Shelley starts her job the next week at the Nikkerbo, the new art museum opened by Founding-Father descendant, Curt Hemcourt V, a famous Olof Krans painting of a Hemcourt ancestor is unveiled. The 1897 masterpiece was thought to have been lost in a fire in Chicago years ago. Upon closer inspection, Shelley discovers the painting is a forgery. But before she can say anything, the painting disappears, and Shelley is accused of stealing it.
Numerous characters with varying motives undertake the search for both missing Olof Krans paintings. Danger and double-crossing abound before the mystery is unraveled and Herb’s murder is solved.
Clouds over Bishop Hill is a bit of an art caper/cozy mystery set against a rich Midwestern background, peppered with interesting historic details. The author has even planted the seed of a potential love interest that could be developed in subsequent books, should this become a series. Readers might root for Shelley’s now-softened grade-school nemesis, Michael J. Anderson (also no relation) or perhaps, handsome Swedish aristocrat Lars Trollenberg (not his real last name).
Mary Davidsaver is from Iowa, but she spent time working as a silversmith and journalist in Bishop Hill, an Illinois state historic site and national historic landmark, which provides the setting for this book. Clouds over Bishop Hill is her first novel and a Silver Falchion nominee.
Sharon Marchisello is the author of Going Home, a murder mystery inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. She has a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is a member of the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She lives in Peachtree City, GA, with her husband and cat, and does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society.