Isadora (Dora) Conroy and Captain Skimmerhorn (Jed) make unlikely protaganists. Dora, who thrills at the sight of sales and antiques, runs her own shop in Philadelphia and lives upstairs where she has another apartment she rents out for extra income. Jed, a retired police captain has just closed up the large and elegant family home he has inherited because of the terrible memories of his childhood there. He has retired because he feels he’s no longer capable of command — he has a rage within that makes him mistrust his ability to disassociate in potentially dangerous situations; he has a hair-trigger reaction he can’t control. When Dora’s father rents the extra apartment to Jed while she’s away on an antique-buying trip, she returns to find Jed moving in and they do not hit it off at all.
Unbeknownst to Dora, some of her auction purchases were from a lot shipped to the Virginian auctioneer by mistake. It should have gone to a private collector, Edmund Finley, on the west coast as extremely rare and priceless items have been smuggled into the U.S. hidden within many of the more common items in the shipment. Finley does not tolerate mistakes and his “fixer”, Anthony DiCarlo, is sent out to track down and retrieve the items no matter what it takes. When one of Dora’s customers is killed, another dealer she met at the auction is also killed, and the auctioneer meets the same fate, Dora and Jed set out to find out what’s behind it all.
There is lots of tension as well as some romance in this novel. While Nora Roberts is arguably one of the most recognized American novelists, I’m pretty sure this is the first of her novels I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It moves along quickly and has interesting characters working through personal problems as well as the alarming puzzle of why people who’ve purchased items from a particular auction are being killed. When Dora goes to California to face Finley down, he sees through her pretence, putting her in extreme danger. Hidden Riches is a great read for a quiet long weekend. * * * *