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Arts and Entertainment

Antiques to Die For by P.L. Hartman

Snyder BookMark
Emily Reddy

When Peggy Hartman told me she had just published a book about the antiques business, I thought it would be some sort of reference work. She’s one of the dealers at Apple Hill Antiques, the antiques shop my husband and I own. But we were in for a wonderful surprise! Peggy wove her experiences at Apple Hill into a murder mystery. Not only that, she made it a big novel you can really get into, with full, rich characters, lots of humor, a foray into local history and some passionate goings-on. She must have remembered just about every conversation she’d heard around the shop, because the antiques lore is there as well. But above all, the book is beautifully written: smooth and flowing. It’s a joy to read.

The books starts with a bang from the very first sentence: “The body was found at 10:15 on a May morning, a fine, fair morning as unsuitable to the horror of murder as anything could be.” The reader knows by the end of the first chapter only that someone has been killed in the shop, but not who, or how, or why, or by whom.

Then the story goes back and covers the previous two years, to the founding of the shop. We get to know the dealers, find out what they’re up to, and begin to care about them. We watch their relationships flourish and become more and more interesting. We follow them to auctions and flea markets and even yard sales. Along the way, sometimes inadvertently, you will learn a zillion things about the antiques business and about the antiques themselves. Yet, as you read, the events of the first chapter color the tale. Someone is going to be killed. It isn’t until two thirds of the way through that we again come to that May morning.

I looked for clues as I went along, as mystery readers do. Still, it was baffling, trying to figure out who done it. Friends who have read the book confess they never guessed the answer. But all the loose ends get tied up, and you aren’t left dangling when you come to that last page, written in the form of an epilogue. Several people have told me when they finished the book, they wanted to read it all over again. I’m one of them!

- Jan Snyder and her husband Roger own Apple Hill Antiques in State College. They'll be having a launch party for Antiques to Die For at their shop on Sunday, June 22 from 2-5pm.

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