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Circles of Confusion (Claire Montrose Mysteries) Hardcover – February, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Claire Montrose Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (February 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060192046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060192044
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,247,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An amateur sleuth with an unusual day job debuts in this lively romantic mystery, Henry's first novel. Claire Montrose works for the Oregon Motor Vehicles Division in Portland, checking applications for vanity license plates. Her mundane job is interrupted by a call from her mother, who reports that Claire's great-aunt has died, bequeathing to Claire the contents of her mobile home. Aided by her boyfriend, an obsessively careful insurance adjuster, Claire sorts through Aunt Cady's belongings. Among the piles of old knickknacks, she finds a beautiful small painting of a woman sitting at a table. Aunt Cady had been in Germany during WWII and Claire suspects the artwork might be one of many masterpieces that disappeared in Europe around that time. To have it appraised, she flies to New York, where an expert tells her that the painting is a forgery. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, however, a handsome artist says that the canvas may be an authentic Vermeer. Attempts to steal the painting convince Claire that the artist may be right?but can she trust him? Or should she trust the expert who thought the painting a forgery? Danger follows Claire back to Portland, but she proves clever enough to outwit even the wiliest villain in her offbeat, vital first outing as a sleuth. Agent, Wendy Schmalz at Harold Ober.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"An amateur sleuth with an unusual day job debuts in this lively, romantic mystery....An off-beat, vital first outing." -- Publishers Weekly

"In her first novel, April Henry has created a cracker-jack plot that is intelligent, internally consistent and interesting. She has created an attractive protagonist and the tale is told in a strong voice that never drifts toward the cute." -- THE DROOD REVIEW OF MYSTERY

"In her first novel, April Henry has created a cracker-jack plot that is intelligent, internally consistent and interesting. She has created an attractive protagonist and the tale is told in a strong voice that never drifts toward the cute." -- The Drood Review of Mystery

"The most fun of all are the chapter endings, each one featuring a vanity license plate that needs to be deciphered, with a key to the puzzles at the end of the book.Want more? BYDBK." -- Denver Post

"Tremendous fun. It's the most adventurous, humorous and romantic novel since Dame Agatha gave us The Man in the Brown Suit. You'll be spellbound by Claire's adventures and will also find yourself envying her romantic interludes. The superb ending will have you shaking your head and smiling at the same time. Brava, Ms. Henry, and thank you for some highly diverting entertainment." -- Romantic Times

"Wonderful! Henry shows a knack for characters, a wry view, and research smarts." -- The Poisoned Pen

"Circles of Confusion is a thoroughly entertaining debut mystery. Claire Montrose is a heroine you can root for." -- Phillip Margolin, author of Gone, but Not Forgotten


More About the Author

I write mysteries and thrillers. I live in Portland, Oregon with my family.

When I was 11, I sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He took it to lunch and showed it to the editor of a British children's magazine - and she asked to publish the story! (For no money, which might have been a warning about how hard it is to make a living writing.)

My dream of writing went dormant until I was in my 30s, working at a corporate job, and started writing books on the side. Those first few years - when I wrote a book a year, worked full time, and had a baby - are now thankfully a blur. Now I'm very lucky to make a living doing what I love. I have written 15 novels for adults and teens, with more on the way. My books have gotten starred reviews, been chosen for IndieNext, translated into eight languages and won awards in several states. And Face of Betrayal, which I co-wrote with Lis Wiehl, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks.

I have also reviewed literary fiction, YA literature, and mysteries and thrillers for the Oregonian, and have written articles for both The Writer and Writers Digest.

In 2014, look for two books: The Body in the Woods, the first in the Point Last Seen series, and A Deadly Business, co-written with Lis Wiehl.

Customer Reviews

All in all, a good mystery, a likeable heroine.
Linda Huson
Even though this book does not start in an extremely exciting way, you still have a hard time putting it down.
Johanna Lindback
I can't abide reading books when the author doesn't even believe in it enough to be sure it is right!
ruthnlhs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Karen Bierman Hirsh VINE VOICE on May 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book because Amazon recommended it to me and boy am I glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed April Henry's first Claire Montrose novel and eagerly await the arrival of her second in my mail box! I love bibliomysteries and that love drew me to this book.
Claire works at the DMV in the specialty plates division - making sure that no offensive license plates get made and April Henry sprinkles fun brain teaser plates throughout the book which is just one reason this novel is so delectable. Everything in Claire's life changes when she learns that her great Aunt Cady has died and left her everything. Claire and her dull as dirt boyfriend Evan go to the trailer park to see just what Claire has inherited. Amongst the trash Claire discovers a suitcase full of nazi memorabilia and a lovely painting which she decides to keep.
Claire decides to discover just who painted the beautiful, intriguing woman and who she was. Despite what the auction house in New York says, that it is simply a cheap copy of a master's work, Claire believes that it is something more. While in New York she meets Troy, the valuator at the auction house and Dante, an art enthusiast at the MET. Both offer her their ideas on the paintings origins (plus something more....) and Claire finds out that this painting is more than meets the eye.
With her life and the painting in danger Claire does not know who to trust or where to turn. Circles of Confusion is well written and has a fabulous ending. I could not put this gem down. Claire is a complex character and I can't wait to see what she will do next in Square in the Face. Brava April Henry for allowing us to share in your wonderful novel.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I learned a little about art forgeries and the WWII background made it more interesting. Clair Montrose is a very likable character and I found myself rooting for her the whole time. I'm looking forward to more of the series-this one is a keeper!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of the best mysteries that I have ever read. It has it all! Suspense, Drama plus it seems so real. You completely lose yourself when reading this. You feel the fear and confusion of Claire. This is one book that once you start it you can not put it down!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
At the heart of this fine novel, the first in what should be a long series, is Claire Montrose, a wonderful heroine that all readers will find good company. She is so appealing that I was as anxious to discover how the complications in her love life would be resolved as I was to learn the truth about the painting she's inherited. I'm ready to follow Claire anywhere she goes in her future adventures. Outstanding.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ellipsis@earthling.net on January 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I suppose everybody has, at some point in their lives, had a fantasy about a long-lost relative leaving a fortune to them.
Unfortunately, for Claire Montrose, the fortune ended up being piles of books, junk, and dust in a rusty old trailer home. The one gem among all the gravel? A painting of a woman, filled with an intricate interplay of light and shadow.
From that point on, the reader is hooked and drawn into Claire's quest to find out more about her great aunt's painting. Along the way, the reader shares with Claire the beginning of a metamorphosis as the quest to find out more about her painting evolves into a journey of discovery - both of herself and the family from which she came.
The characters in "Circles of Confusion" come alive with rich detail both of their physical appearances and mannerisms, but also of their inner desires and motivations. Each of the major characters is totally believable.
And the world into which these characters is placed is one full of color and life! The smells of New York City especially struck me as I read, because the author could simply have run with the cliche of urine and sewers. Sure, those smells are mentioned, but so are the many others - some good, some bad - that help paint the locale as vividly as the characters are painted. As Claire walked through New York City, I smelled trash, road oil, pasta, baking bread....
To say too much about the plot wouldn't be fair to the reader...let it be enough to say that this reader was guessing at every turn and wrong in most of his guesses. Yet every surprise twist, every turn of the plot is plausible and real. The tale is simply so skillfully woven as to keep the pages turning.
Do yourself a favor. Read this book.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Johanna Lindback on September 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After all the Harry Bosch-thrillers (by Michael Connelly) I moved on to April Henry and her "detective" Claire Montrose. And I really liked it! It feels very new and different. Claire is not a journalist or a police, she does not have a (very) messed up life with lots of personal problems, she is 35 without kids and husband but there is not a lot of talk about that or the Clock, and she lives in Oregon. All of this makes a nice change to all "regular" mysteries set in LA or NY with gross details from autopsys, shootings, and the effects of too much coffee, drugs and sex.
The mystery itself is also unusual, combining art, history and Nazis. Very interesting and I learnt a lot!
Another good thing about Circles of confusion is that April Henry is a good writer. Even though this book does not start in an extremely exciting way, you still have a hard time putting it down. And it's funny too in the middle of all the art and Nazis. Especially when Claire's boyfriend Evan, the insurance guy, shows up. He's too good to be true!
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