Having escaped from New York, where she became a pariah in the arts/antiques community for testifying against her boss in a fraud trial, Josie Prescott has found some personal and financial stability running her own business in New Hampshire.
A charity fund raising gala, ending with an auction and banquet, is a huge success until Maisy Gaylor drinks a glass of poisoned red wine. But was she the intended victim or was it really Josie? Who would want her dead? The boss she testified against, now out of prison? Her mysterious assistant who came with no recommendations and no discernible past? Her caterer who has taken off on a moment's notice?
Always at Josie's side is her lawyer and friend Max Bixby, who steers her through the shoals of police interrogation from Detective Rowcliff, who vacillates between friendliness and hostility.
Josie, Max, Rowcliff, and Josie's on-again, off-again ally, journalist Wes Smith are strong characters, with the enigmatic assistant Gretchen not far behind. The only thing that doesn't ring true is Josie's writing of a $10,000 check for an unauthenticated Picasso drawing brought in by a woman she doesn't know.
Otherwise, Cleland is skillful in developing the plot, building up suspense and then giving us a breather with insights into the antique business.