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Gavels, Tinsel, and Murder (A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery, #4) by Victoria Tait 

An excellent holiday cozy mystery with an authentic Cotswolds setting. 

It’s the middle of November, and Dotty Sayers and her best friend, Police Sergeant Keya Varma, are successfully putting the finishing touches on their plans for the Christmas charity ball. Everything was going so smoothly. Retired rock star Jay Newton had agreed to host the event at his home, Windrush Hall. Kuki, the new caterer in town, was bringing samples of the canapes and main courses to try. The local gentry and businesses had been generous with donations for the auction to be held the night of the ball. Dotty’s work at Akeman’s was going well with daily inquiries about upcoming auctions, and the course on modern art Dotty was about to complete had proved interesting and useful, not to mention the increasing affinity a certain handsome art buyer was showing her. 

However, all was not rosy as her dear friends and landlords were amid a terrible personal crisis. Uncle Cliff was slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, and his wife, Beanie, could no longer properly care for him. Norman Climpson lived with them in their farmhouse to help, but Cliff’s increasing confusion and agitation were leading him into dangerous territory. Norman wants Beanie to move Cliff into a professional care facility, but she refuses to consider this as an option, and the two have come to an impasse, with Norman declaring his intentions to leave. 

The evening of the ball arrives, and everything seems to be coming together for a successful event. But when the curtains in the marquee are drawn back to reveal the silent auction offerings, the guests are shocked to see a dead body propped up among the donations. And before the night is over, the valuable highlight item of the auction goes missing, and everyone involved seems to be hiding a secret worth killing for. 

Gavels, Tinsel, and Murder is another lovely entry in the Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery series by author Victoria Tait. I loved that over the course of the series, Dotty has come out of the shell that had been constructed around her growing up and maintained by her much older military spouse. She’s still mourning his death, but time has passed, and healing has started to occur. She’s gotten to a place emotionally where when handsome art buyer, Gilmore Chapman, shows her some very pointed attention, she responds favorably. 

The plot hinges on the disappearance of a valuable painting and the practice of some of the local landowners of selling their original artworks after retaining well-done copies to remain in their homes. In this case, Dotty, busy with an upcoming auction at Akeman’s, the Christmas charity ball, her modern art course, and the holidays in general, tries to take a backseat to the police investigation into the murder. However, she’s responsible for the disappearing painting, and the two cases seem to be a matched set, and she must get involved anyway.

 The author’s easy-to-read style puts the reader in the story right next to her marvelous characters, and it would be a perfect cozy mystery to usher in the feeling of the holidays. I recommend GAVELS, TINSEL, AND MURDER to mystery readers looking for a story set during the holiday season in an authentically portrayed Cotswold setting featuring antiques and fine art. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

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