The Corpse with the Garnet Face (A Cait Morgan Mystery) - Cathy Ace

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Cait Morgan is a psychologist who specializes in victim profiling. Newly married to retired cop, Bud, they are surprised one day when Bud's mother calls to say her long-lost brother, Jonas, has died. His final message to Bud was to ask him to come to Amsterdam and fulfill his final wishes; to distribute some painting to a few surviving friends. When they arrive, Cait and Bud find things aren't what they seem, and it's up to them to unravel the secrets Jonas has hidden for decades.

This is the first book I've read in this series, and now I'm going to go back and read the others! It's been on my To-Be-Read list for months and if I'd known how good it was, I'd have gotten to it sooner! This can easily be read as a standalone, references to prior books were few and didn't distract from the story. I really enjoyed the writing style; the plot unwound steadily as the book progressed, with just enough suspense to keep me turning pages, yet relaxed enough that I felt like I was in Amsterdam soaking up the sights right along with Cait and Bud. While I figured out the "why" pretty early on, it was no less enjoyable and the conclusion was excellent. You know how on Murder, She Wrote, Jessica would take you through, step by step, the whole rotten plot right to the end? That's how this one was done. It was a great way to end the book.

The locale was a big draw, the old world city of Amsterdam with its art museums and bicycles and cafes and I really liked the description of Jonas's house, one of those tall, skinny buildings skirting the canal, complete with a pulley on top to move furniture in and out. I would've loved to see those steep, narrow staircases and that beautiful studio on the top floor.

The characters really make the book. Cait is smart and astute; with a photographic memory and a knack for reading people, she was the first to realize something was a bit off after arriving in Amsterdam. Jonas sounded like an interesting character, it's a shame he wasn't in the story. I really liked the solution of who was in the photos that Jonas had in his bedside table. What a great, memorable plot thread. I'll remember that one for a long time.

Overall, an excellent cozy mystery with a riveting plot, great characters and a beautiful locale, and I definitely recommend it for cozy mystery readers.