Still as Death, the fourth in Taylor’s Sweeney St. George series, was a surprise. I had not read the other books, so I had expected something along the lines of “Friends,” and what I got was “Everwood.” There was more depth to the characters and more poignancy to the story.
Sweeney is an art historian specializing in art that memorializes death. She is launching a museum exhibit on this topic, including Victorian post-mortem photographs and Egyptian funerary containers, when a cleaning woman is found murdered. It appears she has been killed while thwarting the theft of a prized Egyptian canopic container. What Sweeney intuitively finds is a trail leading back to the death almost 30 years earlier of a young museum intern during a successful museum robbery.
While the lesson on funeral art is fascinating and Taylor presents the information without lecturing, the heart of the book lies in the relationships Sweeney has with her boyfriend, suave Londoner Ian Ball, and Boston police detective Tim Quinn. Each character is revealed in all of his or her strengths and vulnerabilities. Emotions are rarely neat and tidy, and Taylor accords the story the respect of not trying to make it so.