WHO
IS SHE?
MORGAN'S BIO

WHO
SAYS?
REVIEWS

WHERE
IS SHE?

Usually in her studio.
Or spending time with family.
Or any number of places.
If those have to do with writing, they'll be listed
here

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEWS


{ Click the book cover for reviews of that novel }

                

  WHAT
DOES SHE WRITE?

JEFF TALBOT
ANTIQUE-LOVER'S
MYSTERY SERIES

HISTORICAL WESTERNS

MARY SHELLEY
PRIVATE EYE SERIES


WHAT

ELSE IS ON HER
WEB SITE?

HER 1937 CADDY

GRAPHIC DESIGN

 

 


 { Death is a Cabaret }

From Publishers Weekly:

On the heels of the Antique Roadshow's popularity comes an exceptional mystery series that's sure to please and tease the treasure hunter in every reader. First-time author Morgan craftily draws Jeffrey Talbot as a quick-witted, Seattle-based retired FBI agent who's turned his passion for antiques into a lucrative business by becoming a picker, an antique hunter who tracks down specific items for collectors. One elusive item Jeff figures he'll never get his hands on is a French cabaret tea set that once belonged to Napoleon's beloved Josephine. When Jeff hears that the serving pieces might turn up at an exclusive auction held at Michigan's Grand Hotel, he takes off in pursuit of the rare tea service, leaving his agoraphobic wife Sheila (his behind-the-scenes helpmate) to her home shopping, gourmet cooking and Internet surfing. Jeff soon learns that he's not alone in his quest; many people, it seems, are willing to kill to gain possession of the set. As bodies begin piling up, Jeff calls upon his investigative skills to find the killer before the killer finds him. Morgan polishes off this slim cozy with some handy recommendations on antiquing, antique Web sites and home shopping.


From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
January 27, 2002
By Oline Cogdill

Tempest in a tea set

In the lively, well-plotted Death Is a Cabaret, the cabaret in question is not a lively nightclub to which everyone goes because that's what life is. Instead, this cabaret is an 18th century porcelain tea or coffee service. The priceless set that fuels the plot was a present from Napoleon to Josephine.

Finding it has been a mission for Jeff Talbot, who has scoured flea markets, estate sales and garage sales for years to locate this historical artifact for Blanche Appleby, the owner of Seattle's largest antiques mall. But this cabaret would never go on sale in Blanche's store; this time it's personal. Blanche's mother once owned the set, but it was sold when she died more than 50 years ago.

A retired FBI agent-turned-antiques picker, Jeff has been using his
investigative skills to track down the set. When it finally comes on the auction block, Jeff is there, ready to pay any price. But the price may be too dear when rival collectors are found murdered. For a piece this valuable, there's no lack of suspects. Now Jeff combines both his careers as he tries to find out what makes something worth enough to kill for.

Deborah Morgan, an award-winning author of mystery and historical western short stories, delivers an outstanding traditional mystery in her first novel. Morgan adds a keen sense of "the pulse of history" to the antiques that propel the plot of Death Is a Cabaret. In addition, she perfectly captures how the thrill of antiques hunting can easily turn into an obsession. Most importantly, Morgan keeps the antique lore relevant to the
mystery, making Death Is a Cabaret full of twists and turns that logically move ahead the story.

Jeff is a sturdy, unique character capable of sustaining a long series. Morgan uses his background as an FBI agent to keep him grounded; then she enlivens his household with a devoted butler and an agoraphobic wife who has found the Internet her key to the outside world.

Collectors and antiques buffs will be thrilled with Death Is a Cabaret. Mystery fiction fans will find a new treasure.


From BookSense "Winter Mystery 76"
Death is a Cabaret was a Top Ten, and the only paperback original:

"This paperback original mixes The Great Gatsby with a group of antique dealers at an auction on Mackinac Island. There is also a fascinating subplot about agoraphobia. All in all, an unusual mystery from a first-time author."
Jean Utley, Book-em Mysteries, S. Pasadena, CA


From Midwest Book Review:
Meredith Campbell

In the world of antiques anything can happen--even murder. Former FBI agent Jeff Talbot has left the bureau and become a "picker," someone who scrounges through attics and yard sales looking for valuables he can sell to dealers and connoisseurs. On a quest to find the 200 year old expensive and exquisite tea set once owned by Napoleon's love, Josephine, an antiques convention and auction draws Talbot to Mackinac Island, Michigan, leaving behind his Seattle comforts and devoted, yet, tragic wife. Settled into plush quarters at the historic Grand Hotel, Talbot meets a kaleidoscope of intriguing characters. From a fourth floor window staring into the darkened pool area, he witnesses a murder. Soon afterward, the main auctioneer dies. Is his death murder or suicide? Forget the idea that highbrow antique dealing is for the polite gentility. The affair turns out to be cutthroat and the attendees not who they pretend to be.

Morgan departs from the modern mystery's in-your-face-murder and mayhem on page one. In this first of the Jeffery Talbot series, the reader experiences an Agatha Christie, wherein the characters take on life, ambience melds into place, and the story becomes comfortable--before the body count starts. Another departure that serves this kind of mystery well is Morgan's use of detailed descriptions of décor and dress. This keeps to the tone of near reverence for history and historical object de arts. Talbot relishes old things because of the human stories represented behind them.

The friends of slam-bang, boom boom shoot-'um-ups with detectives, who talk out of the side of their mouths and naked women in every bed, may have difficulty with this book. But, lovers of antiques and civilized writing will love Death is a Cabaret. In setting the story inside the milieu of antiques, Morgan offers a fresh voiceto the mystery genre and readers can look forward to the second adventure in this series.


Dennis Collins, reviewer for myshelf.com

Ms. Morgan makes use of Nineteenth century china to bring this Twentieth century whodunit into the new millennium. Mystery fans will love helping ex-FBI agent Jeff Talbot sift through the clues as he seeks to identify the murderer. There are plenty of suspects, all with plausible motives and means, keeping the suspense level just right.

The world of high-end antique dealing and trading is a new setting for a murder mystery but it fits beautifully. A one-of-a-kind cabaret set commissioned by Napoleon for Josephine is an object of desire to some very sophisticated collectors as they come together for an auction at the beautiful and historic Grand Hotel on Michigan's Mackinac Island.

Jeff Talbot has journeyed all the way from Seattle to bid for the precious treasure. He finds the usually peaceful island bristling with bidders, some above reproach and some downright unscrupulous, but all determined to possess this celebrated tea set. And then they begin turning up murdered.

Deborah Morgan's love for antiques comes through loud and clear, right down to Jeff Talbot's own pride and joy, his 1948 Chevy Woodie. Morgan tells this story splendidly, capturing the aura of Mackinac Island while intertwining the struggle of Jeff Talbot's wife Sheila as she battles the demons in her own mind.

This is the kind of book that will appeal to a very wide audience. It's suitable for all ages and has the unique charm of capturing the reader who has always dreamed of uncovering some long lost masterpiece at a local garage sale. I highly recommend it and sincerely hope that we haven't heard the last of Jeff Talbot.


From Mary Alice Gorman
Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Pittsburgh, PA

Deborah Morgan has turned her considerable writing skills and passion for collecting into a new series with legs. A longtime writer of westerns and mystery short stories as well as editor of the Private Eye Writers of America newsletter, she creates a terrific new character in professional antique picker and retired FBI arts and antiques specialist Jeff Talbot. In this terrific debut he is tracking a rare Napoleonic tea set, the cabaret, in the charming setting of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Meanwhile, his agoraphobic wife in Seattle is surfing the web for details that'll help him track a deadly killer stalking a collection of mildly and madly eccentric characters. Check out www.deborahmorgan.com for proof of the author's cyber skills. At the end of the book, you'll find a wonderfully enhanced bibliography and webliography of research for this book. A very fresh and intriguing debut from mystery maven Deborah Morgan. Death is a Cabaret (Berkley, $5.99) is a treasure!


From Harriet Klausner's 5-star review, www.bn.com:
Fascinating mystery . . .

Readers will receive an insider view of the cutthroat competitiveness of the antique business world. The characters seem authentic especially the hero who many female readers will measure their significant other against (mine holds up nicely). DEATH IS A CABARET includes a fascinating mystery that enables the audience to become an intricate part of the plot and will surely bring acclaim to Deborah Morgan.


From Mary Maggie Mason
Review of the Week
Deadly Pleasures, September 9

Jeff Talbot is a former FBI agent, now working as an antique picker in Seattle. He is uniquely suited to that occupation, as he is a descendant of a Pacific Northwest Lumber Baron. He lives in a ... well, mansion pretty well describes it...with his agoraphobic wife and their butler. You get the sense Jeff works for the fun and excitement of the chase as well as the money. Right before he leaves for his first visit to the Mackinac Island antique festival, he has a run-in with another picker, Frank Hamilton. Hamilton tries to get by with boyish charm, but can turn mean if necessary. Jeff is not impressed with Frank, and is pleased he was successful where Frank failed. Jeff sells his finds various places, and one of them is a antique store owned by Blanche Appleby.

Jeff is trying to find a Cabaret set for Blanche. It had been her Mother's, sold after her death by her Father. The cabaret set was commissioned by Napoleon and made for Josephine. Jeff is sure it will be sold at auction at the Mackinac event, and hopes he will be the highest bidder. While there, he meets many different types of collectors. He also, to his dismay, sees Frank Hamilton. When Hamilton is found dead, Jeff gets involved in the investigation on a civilian basis.

What I liked best about this book was the antique lore. To express what many collectors feel, I quote from the book: "You can't get the thrill of collecting across to anyone who doesn't collect something." I found Jeff a likeable character, and hope his wife can conquer her agoraphobia in order to go on adventures with him. I do hope this will be a series.


From Jon Jordon:

Jeff Talbot is an interesting guy. He used to work for the FBI, and now lives in Seattle making his way in the world hunting antiques as a "picker." I was able to understand much of this because it is very similar to hunting for books. While reading this book, you learn to appreciate the knowledge needed to be a picker. So for this aspect alone, I loved the book.

But the book is much more than that. The characters are realistic and enjoyable, and the story is engrossing. I was drawn into it and stayed up much later than I planned reading the whole book through to it's conclusion.

Jeff is on a quest. He's looking for a tea set with Napoleon ties, an object that has eluded a dear freind of his for years. He travels to an auction on Mackinac Island and plans to be the winning bidder. This being a mystery, of course things don't go as planned. Before long a body shows up. Some one Jeff knows. And he is drawn into the investigation. And then another body. And then some twists and turns and before long the teapot is second on Jeff's to do list.

I really loved this book. I didn't think I would like it as much as I did. It seemed that an "antique lover's mystery" would not be my kind of thing. Boy, was I wrong. This book is super, and since it's a paperback, there is no excuse not to buy it and enjoy it for yourself.



From Mary V. Welk
March 2002

Jeff Talbot was once a desk jockey for the FBI. Now he jockeys a pristine 1948 Chevy woodie over the highways and byways of Seattle in search of antiques. As a professional picker, Jeff's job is to find and buy unusual items, then resell them to Blanche Appeby, owner of All Things Old, the city's largest antique shop. Blanche is not only a sharp businesswoman but also a lady with a dream. Her family had once owned a priceless cabaret set, a porcelain coffee server originally purchased by Napoleon for his wife, the Empress Josephine. The set had been sold soon after the death of Blanche's mother, and Blanche has been searching for it ever since. Unknown to her, the cabaret set is up for auction at the Annual Antiques Festival on Michigan's Mackinac Island. Jeff Talbot will be attending the Festival held at the island's Grand Hotel, and come hell or high water, he intends to get the set back for Blanche.

But Jeff isn't the only one after the Napoleonic treasure. Frank Hamilton, an obnoxious picker and Talbot's main competitor in the trade, shows up at the Festival as well. Jeff knows that Hamilton's presence means trouble, but he doesn't realize how much trouble until his rival turns up dead in the hotel's fountain. The murder casts a pall over the proceedings, and Jeff finds himself wondering who hated Frank enough to kill him. When a second death occurs on the island, Jeff is drawn deeper into the investigation by Mackinac Detective Cal Brookner. He quickly turns to his wife for help when he discovers a possible clue. An agoraphobic, Sheila Talbot no longer ventures outside her Seattle home, but she's an expert at surfing the Internet. While Sheila researches the clue on her computer, Jeff delves into the personal lives of the other auction attendees in hopes of discovering a motive for the killings. What he eventually learns comes as a surprise to both Jeff and the reader.

Proving that old hatreds are the worst kind, Deborah Morgan brews a tale of deceit amid grandeur as she introduces readers to the intriguing world of antique collecting in Death Is A Cabaret. Jeff and Sheila Talbot are refreshingly different characters with a unique perspective on the institute of marriage. Their ability to accept and deal with the limitations imposed on them by Sheila's illness strengthens their relationship and gives readers a pair of protagonists worth emulating. Morgan's descriptions of Mackinac and the Grand Hotel are equally pleasing for those who have visited the island and those who only dream of doing so. The author's knowledge of antiques is evident in the book, and as an added plus, she ends her story with "Recommendations from Jeff Talbot", a brief epilogue offering books of interest to antique collectors, coffee lovers, and fan of the cinema. Sheila's webliography is also included in this chapter.

Death Is A Cabaret is a satisfying first novel that whets the reader's appetite for more Jeff Talbot adventures. Hopefully we won't have to wait long for another mystery by the talented Deborah Morgan.


From reviewingtheevidence.com
By Andi Shechter

Deborah Morgan made my week. After spending days trying to find a good book, she came through. Death is a Cabaret is a darn good first mystery with lots to offer; good settings (including Seattle, where I live), things to learn (antiques, collecting) and some solid three-dimensional characters.

The protagonist, Jeff Talbot, is a former FBI agent, whose interest in art and antiques he comes by naturally, as he was raised in an antique-filled house. At the FBI, this made him an expert in missing art. He grew frustrated, however, at the paper pushing job that it became, and quit in order to have the thrill of actually hands-on finding the antiques in attics and barns and hidden places. So he's got law enforcement background, and some connections and smarts about crime, but has a much cooler job now. He's what is called an antiques picker, someone seeking antiques in every possible place, in order to sell them at a higher price to a shop owner, or to someone who specifically collects what he has found.

Recently, Jeff outsmarted another picker, Frank Hamilton. Frank's manner lost him a sale, and Jeff profited from Hamilton's smart-ass attitude. A few days later, in search of a major find (the "cabaret set" of the titled) at a major antiques event at the Grand Hotel on Michigan's Mackinac Island, Jeff is surprised to see Frank Hamilton again. Worse, Hamilton ends up dead.

A very impressively written side story to Death is a Cabaret is that of Jeff's wife. Sheila lives with agoraphobia, a very tough disabling condition, that makes it nigh on impossible to leave the house. In this day of the internet, with research, on-line and catalogue shopping, she has a world of places to go to, if vicariously. It's a tough situation to be in - being trapped at home when you have brains, talent, skills. Morgan handles it quite well - informative without being preachy, sympathetic without evoking pity. As someone who due to disability, has been trapped at home, and has at times relied on the internet for help in keeping in touch with the world, I was impressed by the author's decision to portray someone with this condition. She does it well and it adds a dimension to the story. While he feels bad, it never occurs to Jeff to be angry at Sheila -- he loves her completely and admires her. And while he doesn't always seem to get Sheila's agoraphobia, almost thinking that it can just go away, he does deal with it honestly and is not scared off by the limitations this disability brings with it.

There are some minor glitches here -- the occasional expository lump, where an awkward paragraph or two is provided to explain something. But it was minor stuff. Meanwhile, there are people dying on the very interesting historic Mackinac Island, at a gorgeous hotel with lovingly furnished rooms that appeals to the collector in Jeff Talbot, and which appealed to the non-collector in this reviewer. I was impressed with Death Is a Cabaret and am looking forward to the next book in this promising series.



From Toby Bromberg
Romantic Times, Four-star review

Retired FBI agent Jeff Talbot is an antiquer and spends many happy hours discovering finds and reselling them. He especially loves to offer his treasures to elderly Blanche Appleby, and offers to try to find a priceless tea set she once owned, one that had been commissioned by Napoleon for Josephine.

When Jeff learns that the tea set is going to be part of an auction held at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, he arranges to participate. However, another local antiques dealer, the obnoxious Frank Hamilton, is already there. Jeff tries to avoid Hamilton, but when Hamilton is killed, Jeff becomes a suspect, as their rivalry is well known. Using skills from his Federal days, Jeff not only catches a killer but also finds a prize tea service!

DEATH IS A CABARET marks the beginning of a new series that will endear itself to antique-loving mystery fans-it's more exciting than "Antiques Roadshow!" (Nov., 240 pp., $5.99)

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{ The Weedless Widow }

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
April 20, 2003
By Oline Cogdill

Deborah Morgan, an award-winning author of mystery and historical western short stories, should give lessons on the correct way to write an amateur sleuth mystery. While other authors in the sub-genre stoop to gimmicks and cliches, Morgan continues to show her flair for keeping a character's unusual occupation not only relevant to the mystery, but also central to the twists that logically move ahead the story.

In her second novel, Morgan delivers an outstanding traditional mystery that is briskly paced, and chock-full of well-developed characters as well as insight on the antiques trade.

In The Weedless Widow, retired FBI agent-turned antiques picker Jeff Talbot uses his investigative skills to reel in a priceless set of fly fishing lures that someone was willing to kill for. But Jeff's investigation hits too close to home when his agoraphobic wife becomes the bait.

Morgan takes her characters from the traditional estate sales and flea markets to the newest spot for antique picking--the Internet. Regardless of where, the thrill of the hunt for valuable antiques is just as ruthless.

Morgan's keen sense of history--and the obsession of fishermen--adds texture to The Weedless Widow. Morgan's series is a real find for mystery fiction fans and antiques buffs alike.



From Robyn Glazer
Mystery News, four-quill review
"A remarkable read..."

Jeff Talbot gave up his life as an FBI agent so he could relax and reside in peace. He thought his new career as an antique picker would provide the calm, but oh how wrong he was! Now, for the second time since Jeff has switched careers, he is involved with murder.

What could be more fun than four friends going on a fishing trip to veg out and eat hot chili? Unfortunately, events conspire against the group of men when one of their friends is found murdered at the fishing hole. After Bill is found dead, the widow requests that Jeff come look for antiques in Bill's house. He agrees and somehow winds up involved with the investigation. After Jeff's agoraphobic wife turns up missing, Jeff just knows that it is connected to his friend's murder. Time begins to run out and as the situation gets more perilous, Jeff knows he must use his keen sense of observation to find his wife.

The Weedless Widow is a remarkable read. What stood out most about this book was the compassion with which Morgan writes. She obviously loves antiquing and did thorough research on agoraphobia. She writes with knowledge, which brings this book to the next level. When I read about Sheila, I didn't think of her as an invalid, rather as a complicated woman. Although I guessed the murderer, I had no idea what the motive was and I was pleasantly surprised at the unveiling. The Weedless Widow is a pleasurable follow-up to Death is a Cabaret.


 

Dennis Collins, reviewer for myshelf.com
NOTE: Collins listed The Weedless Widow in his top ten reads of the year

Deborah Morgan doesn't miss a beat in The Weedless Widow, the follow-up to her debut novel, Death is a Cabaret. This second book, reminiscent of Ravel's Bolero, a steadily building crescendo from the opening note.

The story begins innocently enough with Jeff Talbot, ex-FBI agent turned antique picker, preparing for a relaxing weekend of fishing in a tranquil Pacific northwest stream with a few of his cronies. Jeff's expectations of a worry-free vacation quickly evaporate when he stops at his favorite bait and tackle shop and finds the proprietor on the floor, brutally murdered.

Jeff does his best to stay out of the investigation and let the local sheriff handle it, but he is drawn back into the case when the lady sheriff enlists his aid in order to pick his brain regarding some stolen antique fishing lures. The more Jeff probes the purloined fishing tackle, the more nervous the perpetrator becomes. Things get really serious for Jeff when his wife is kidnapped.

This novel has just the right mix of characters with very distinct personalities, each drawn vividly enough to make the story easy to follow. Every person plays a significant role keeping the tale quite lively and the plot flows very well at an ever-accelerating pace.
Deborah Morgan has another winner here, a very pleasurable read. I'm sure that Jeff Talbot will be around for a long time.



Reviewer: S. Loper-Herzog for Murderexpress.com

What a gem! I'm sure Jeffrey Talbot, antique picker and former FBI agent, could tell me its value. If he isn't busy fishing or reviewing inventory for Blanche Appleby's antique shop, All Things Old. Or solving a murder.

You don't have to be an antique collector to enjoy Deborah Morgan's second edition of "an Antique Lover's Mystery," "The Weedless Widow." She does a marvelous job of introducing antiques while weaving a suspenseful and engaging story.

Jeff Talbot is joining his fishing buddies for their annual trip. He is also trying to coordinate the listing and transportation of his latest haul of antiques. When he arrives at the Northwest Territory Bait and Tackle shop for supplies, he joins his fishing friend, the Judge. Together they find their friend and shop owner, Bill Rhodes murdered. Throughout the fishing trip weekend, Jeff finds himself assisting the local sheriff's department in the investigation. Meanwhile in Seattle, his recently acquired antiques are being transported to the warehouse.

While helping the local law enforcement, Jeff forwards pertinent data to his home computer. When he returns home from his fishing trip, he finds Sheila, his agoraphobic wife, missing. Using former FBI resources, friends and Seattle's police, the search for Sheila Talbot begins. As Jeff searches, he finds her disappearance clearly linked to the murder.
The story cleverly weaves antiques and the fishing trip. It describes antique and their values seamlessly, while not burdening the reader with irrelevant or unwanted information. Ms. Morgan grabs your attention and keeps you "hooked" right through to the surprising ending.



Reviewer: Jon Jordan

In this, the second book featuring ex-FBI antiquities expert Jeff Talbot, the story revolves around a fishing trip. Which is why the book is named after a lure. Jeff goes to meet up with his fishing buddies, and upon arrival he discovers that the bait shop owner has been murdered. The local Sheriff taps into Jeff's knowledge of antiques to help work the case. The reader is given plenty of suspects to choose from, all with good motives. And in the end when the killer is outed it makes perfect sense.

I love this series. And as much as I love the writing and the story, I love the antiques being discussed. Every one collects something, and this series is great fun for the way it plays on that. And you don't have to collect what's being talked about to appreciate it. Morgan does such thorough research, you'll feel like a bit of an expert yourself for having read it!
Now you'll have to excuse me, I feel like going to some thrift stores...



Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Ex FBI agent Jeff Talbot is very content at being an antique dealer, buying "treasures" at yard sales and homes where the residents are leaving. He sells them back to collectors and stores that specialize in such items. This weekend he's leaving business behind and meeting with old friends to fish and play poker. Before Jeff reaches the cabin, he finds his friend Bill Rhodes murdered in his fish and bait shop.

Unable to forget the instincts that made him a good FBI agent, he starts questioning people including the victim's wife and mistress. He passes on the information he learns to the local sheriff and returns home to sort out some pickings, both his that he bought and Bill's fishing lures that his wife gave to Jeff on consignment. After a busy day of work he returns home to find his severely agoraphobic wife missing. Jeff's first priority is to find his wife and to do that he has to figure out if Bill's murder played a part in her disappearance, and if so, what?

Any woman who wants a man should pick one exactly like the hero of THE WEEDLESS WIDOW. He is sensitive, caring, earthy and strong-willed so anyone he cares about will know he's there for them. The mystery is enthralling, almost as much as the insider's look at a picker and an antique collector.

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{ The Marriage Casket }

From January Magazine
By Jon Jordan

As a descendant of the late-19th-century's infamous Dalton Gang, and a former chief dispatcher for a city police department in northeastern Oklahoma, Deborah Morgan (who now lives in Michigan with her author husband, Loren D. Estleman) boasts a unique perspective on criminal behavior and investigation. Her books have ranged from historical westerns to modern-day detective stories, but they ultimately escape true genre type-casting by virtue of their sharp characterizations and settings that feel both authentic and familiar.

Anybody who has avoided Morgan's work because they refuse to read cozies should know that she doesn't write cozies, either. When you pick up one of her novels, you'll find a well-crafted tome that may look like a cozy on the outside, but reads like a fast-paced thriller inside. A fine example is The Marriage Casket (Berkley Prime Crime), the third volume in her Antique Lover's Mystery series.

Jeff Talbot, an ex-FBI agent-turned-antiques picker (introduced in Death Is a Cabaret, 2001), has lucked onto a true treasure trove. A man named Nathan Rose has sold him the entire contents of two buildings in Seattle, left to him by his recently deceased aunt, Verena Rose. Jammed practically from ceiling to floor, and wall to wall, with potential riches, this excavation of arcana could prove to be terrifically profitable for Talbot. Yet there's so much to sort through. Spying what may be an Aubusson rug in the first building, Talbot moves furniture around and rearranges boxes in order to reach and roll up the rug. Only well into this process does he notice a slight staining in the weave. His FBI-honed instincts suddenly kick in, and he goes back to the area of floor the rug had previously covered. There, he finds a reddish-brown patch that doesn't look to be very old. Talbot sighs, because he recognizes a homicide scene when he sees one. His picking will have to come to a halt until it's resolved.

Further investigation reveals a murder weapon (if not yet a victim), and that weapon, in turn, leads back to none other than Nathan Rose. Although Rose is soon arrested, Talbot is convinced he didn't kill anybody. Still, without evidence as persuasive as what little the police already have, there's not much that can done to free Rose from jail. The detective in charge of this case, Mike Gadzinski, is no soft touch, but at least Talbot has his ear. He convinces Gadzinski to conduct additional DNA testing on the weapon, while Talbot resorts to good old-fashioned footwork and gut instincts to uncover the truth behind that puzzling bloodstain. Nobody could have foreseen, though, that the resolution to this crime would reside in Aunt Verena's eccentric accumulation of items over many years, or that the killer's identity would have been hidden for just as long. Talbot finds that the deeper he digs, the deeper the dangers he finds. And as the storm drain of deceit breaks open, the people he loves will be pulled into a literal sink-or-swim situation.

The Marriage Casket is a splendid thriller, despite its lack of graphic violence and starkly menacing antagonists. Providing Jeff Talbot with the keen intelligence of a former intelligence operative, but the settled life of a happily married antiques picker, gives readers a break from the hoard of damaged modern protagonists. Yet Morgan steers clear of sugar-coating her fictional crimes. A balance expertly struck. -- J.J.


Reviewed by Deborah Hern
Romance Readers Connection (4 starred daggers)

Jeff Talbot, now retired from the FBI, is an antique dealer living in Seattle. Recent events have caused a huge upheaval in his home. His wife, who is agoraphobic, was recently kidnapped. Although Jeff managed to bring her home with no physical injuries, the psychological damage has been serious. Jeff and his household staff have all made serious adjustments, while hoping that Sheila will recover. As the story opens, she has confined herself to her bedroom, and is unsure about venturing down to the first floor for holiday meals.

Trying to maintain his business as usual, Jeff has made a deal with Nathan Rose. Nathan is the great-nephew of the late Verena Rose, who owned two huge homes, both crammed with items of all kinds. It will take months of work to sort through, clean, catalogue, and deal with everything. Nathan, a hard-working father of three, doesn't have the time or inclination to deal with the houses or their contents. He needs money to keep his family afloat. While rolling up a rug in the cluttered living room, Jeff makes a startling discovery. Under the rug is a stain that can only be blood. Verena's death is now being investigated as a homicide with Nathan as the primary suspect. Jeff doesn't believe the police are looking at the right man, though, so he begins his own investigation through the houses. When he comes across an old marriage casket filled with letters, he finds out that there could be several suspects. And someone doesn't want him to find out anything else.

This is the third in a series, but newcomers will have no problems getting up to speed. The back story is quickly and succinctly filled in; and readers are immediately drawn into the life and world of Jeff Talbot. The mystery itself is entertaining; and the characters are all very sympathetic. The subplot of Jeff's home life and personal issues adds to the general air of urgency. Anyone with even a casual interest in antiques will be enthralled by the descriptions and explanation of the trade. And what mystery reader wouldn't love to have a whole house full of antiques, letters, and secrets to discover? I'll be looking for the first two in the series, and looking forward to more from this author. Perfect for a chilly holiday night.



From Romantic Times
By Lorraine Gelly

Jeff Talbot is a former FBI agent turned antiques picker—someone who scours the barns and the byways looking for potentially valuable objects. He's purchased the contents of the late Verena Rose's old house and, as he prepares to move the items, he spots blood—which turns out to be Verena's. The death had been deemed an accidental fall, but it turns out to be murder.

Since Jeff's inventory is part of a crime scene, it behooves him to help the police solve the murder, so he can reclaim his purchases. The third book of this series also brings back Jeff's wife, Sheila, an agoraphobic who has not been out of their restored Victorian home in five years, and their faithful butler, Greer. Sheila's sister, Karen, also plays an important role in the current mystery.

The author, an antiques collector, loves to do research on antiques and collectibles, which shows in this cozy, entertaining series. Jeff, Sheila and their "family" of fellow antique dealers and friends grow on the reader, and you'll soon become enamored of the quirky cast of characters. The antique lore is fascinating, and collectors and non-collectors alike will be smitten.


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{Four on the Floor }

From crimespree magazine:
By Jon Jordan

Jeff Talbot is back in this fourth book of the ongoing series. Talbot is a
retired FBI Agent whose specialty was antiques and collectables. He now
uses this knowledge as an antique picker, finding antiques and reselling
them. In the last book his 1948 Fleetmaster Woodie was damaged pretty bad
and we open with Jeff going to pick it up after repairs have been made. As
these things happen, when Jeff gets the body shop to retrieve his car he
finds four bodies scattered about the shop. One of the regular employees,
the owner's son, is missing. The owner, Louie Stella, was an informant of
Jeff's back in his days as an agent so he has a reason to look into the
killings. Along with his old partner he begins looking into the deaths.

As with Morgan's previous work this book is full of wonderful information
about the world of collecting and antiques. It is wonderfully written in
such a way that you are drawn into the lives of the characters. Her
plotting is relentless and evenhanded as a good mystery should be. Deborah
Morgan is a true gift to mystery readers everywhere.


 

Reviewed by Deborah Hern
Romance Readers Connection (4 starred daggers)

Jeff Talbot, former FBI agent turned antique dealer, misses his car. For a start, it’s a 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster with original wood sides. His beloved car was wrecked several months ago, during an attempt on his life. Since then, the car has been in the very capable hands of one Louie Stella, garage owner, auto genius, and former FBI informant. Jeff is surprised but happy when Louie calls early one morning to tell him the car is finished. Louie says one of his sons, Tony, who works for him, found some “nostalgia” hidden in the car, as well.

Arriving at the garage less than an hour later, Jeff is overcome by the smell of paint fumes. Strangely, the large bay doors are all closed. Making his way through the silent garage, Jeff finds four bodies: Louie, his youngest son, and two employees. At first glance, it looks like a senseless accident; too many fumes and too little ventilation. But Jeff, once over the initial shock, believes it was homicide. Louie was a professional. And it doesn’t take long for the local authorities to agree. To add to the confusion, Tony is missing. But he left an envelope for Jeff, containing the items found in the car. They’re pictures taken years ago, and a postcard discussing treasure in a vault and a planned caper. Could these have belonged to his father? Jeff’s parents died when he was a child; now he’s eager to clear up this mystery, too.

This is the latest in a series, but newcomers will feel right at home. Jeff and his wife, Sheila, are both interesting and layered characters. In this installment, Jeff’s past and complex family history is examined. There’s a lot of information about classic cars, and the people who love/restore/drive them. I’m not a car person, but I found this aspect fascinating as an aspect of real Americana. Adding to this feel is the Burma Shave ad slogans that begin each chapter. They crystallize the innocence, hope, and open-road, go-anywhere feel of the country at the time. This series is a real treat for anyone with an interest in antiques, history, and well-constructed mysteries. I can’t wait for the next one.

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{ The Majolica Murders }

From crimespree magazine:
By Jon Jordan

The Majolica Murders is book five in this wonderful series set in Seattle by Deborah Morgan featuring Jeff Talbot and his agoraphobic wife Sheila. Talbot is an ex-FBI agent whose expertise was antiquities. After retiring he became a "Picker", someone who tracks down and finds antiques and sells them to dealers, kind of like a book hunter.

The book opens with a scene on the Talbot's front porch during trick or treat. The scene closes with Jeff getting shot. Flashback, glimpse of the future, bad dream? We don't know. We delve into the story proper with Jeff doing business with a fellow picker named Lanny in his den. The house is being prepped for Jeff's fortieth birthday. Jeff and Laney head out so as to leave Sheila to her work. Jeff and Lanny continue their discussion
during the ride downtown. Before dropping Lanny off Jeff gives him a check to pick up some Majolica for him. (Majolica is antique earthenware in a variety of shapes and forms). Jeff gets home in time for his party.

The party is interrupted by a phone call. Lanny has been arrested for murdering an antique dealer. Jeff is drawn into another murder case.

Morgan writes a traditional mystery with modern sensibilities. The characters are terrific and real and the relationships feel very genuine. She has incredible pacing and the book flows beautifully. I also love all the aspects of the antique picking and hunting. Morgan is writing a very solid series which should not be missed. THE MAJOLICA MURDERS is a rare find not to be missed. 


  

Reviewed by Deborah Hern
Romance Readers Connection (4 starred daggers)

Antiques dealer Jeff Talbot wants to buy a couple of pieces of majolica (decorated earthenware pottery) for his wife. When Lanny, an informant from Jeff’s days in the FBI, and now an antiques picker, tells Jeff that he’s found the perfect pieces, Jeff cuts a check without a second thought. Lanny’s job is to go to the dealer with the majolica, purchase it for Jeff, and pocket the profit. Several hours later, Lanny is under arrest for murder.

According to Lanny, he went to a shop owned by Fiona Brock to purchase the pieces. When she said she’d sold them out from under him, they argued. Later in the day, Lanny returned to Fiona’s shop to make peace. That’s when he found Fiona, dead, slumped over a book about majolica. Jeff believes his story. But, given Lanny’s shady past and present, the police aren’t so eager to believe. There’s a long list of dealers who might wish Fiona ill, so Jeff begins to investigate.

A new book by this author is always a treat. Each novel presents an interesting mystery, with details about a particular type of antique woven seamlessly into the story. The author has a unique way of conveying the sense of history inherent in objects passed from person to person, and family to family. For newcomers to the series, there’s plenty of background; for longtime readers, the characters continue to evolve. The mystery is intriguing, and the cast of characters is engagingly eccentric without going overboard. This is a great choice for fans of mystery, history, and antiques.




Dennis Collins, reviewer myshelf.com
NOTE: Collins listed The Majolica Murders in his 2006 Top Ten Reads

Ex-FBI agent turned antique picker Jeff Talbot returns for this fifth book in the series. This time Lanny, an old friend, fellow antique picker, and past FBI informer finds an item that Jeff wants to buy to surprise his wife. Jeff gives Lanny a check and Lanny hurries off to pay for the item but when he arrives at the antique shop he finds the proprietor murdered and Lanny is arrested as the prime suspect.

Convinced of Lanny's innocence Jeff sets out to find the real killer and begins with bailing Lanny out of the cooler so that they can work together to come up with the answers. The problem is that Lanny doesn't seem as eager as Jeff to solve the riddle. Jeff has to be careful not to interfere with the parallel police investigation that is taking place but he keeps up an aggressive pace looking for clues and eventually winds up working with the police. He stumbles across Mustang Sally, a homeless young lady with an amazingly interesting personality. She witnessed a confrontation between suspect Lanny and the victim on the day of the murder but also mentioned other people present at the same time. She was your classic "Key Witness." I liked Mustang Sally; she really brightened up the story.

If you are one of those mystery fans who prides himself in being able to identify the killer early in the book, be prepared to meet your match in this story. Morgan leaves you virtually no clues and the plot is extremely complicated. You're going to have to pay attention if you want to understand this one.

As in all of the Jeff Talbot mysteries, Jeff is still dealing with the challenge of having an agoraphobic wife but there is a new twist in this story that leads the reader to believe that there just might be some changes on the horizon.

I'll gladly put this book on my recommended list and hope for a long running series.
           

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