Rembrandt Rides a Bike (Julia Fairchild #2), by PJ Peterson

Eight stars

When given an ARC for the latest PJ Peterson novel in the Julia Fairchild series, I was unsure what I ought to expect. Peterson writes ‘cozy mysteries’, which can be wonderfully exciting, but also pose of the problem of not being mentally stimulating enough for a reader such as myself. I chose to take the risk, but wanted to tackle the entire series to ensure context. Peterson won me over early with a young doctor whose sleuthing abilities are honed by her attention to detail. Having devoured the series debut, I forged onwards with this story, which takes the reader through much of Germany and into the Netherlands. Dr. Julia Fairchild is with an amateur dance troupe, but also seems to be surrounded by art thieves. Working with her younger sister, they try to piece it all together, while never missing a shuffle step or the chance to catch the sights! Another winner for PJ Peterson.

Dr. Julia Fairchild remains busy with her medical practice, but enjoys some of the more enjoyable things in life, such as tap dancing. Having taken it up in adulthood, Julia and a few of her friends signed up for a dance tour in Europe. Alongside her younger sister, Carly, Julia arrives in Frankfurt to join the rest of the tour group. They will be practicing routines most mornings and evenings, but have ample time to tour around the four cities, admiring the local art and history.

While out at a museum, Julia and Carly find themselves in the middle of a security breech, as someone has stolen an elusive piece of art. This is surely something a little more exciting that simply peering at paintings, though Julia and Carly cannot be sure what’s been going on. As they commence dance practices, some of the dancers meet one of their own, a Croat from New York City, who remains secretive and relatively shy.

It is only when the diminutive Irina does not show up for practice or one of their recitals that Julia worries. However, those organizing the tour are keen to point out that Irina mentioned having some issues and would catch up as soon as she could. While the tour moves along to another German city, so does the mystery, as another heist occurs. It is only when Julia meets a roaming American reporter that details of the robberies come to light, adding some intrigue to the holiday.

Never one to dismiss a mystery, Julia begins poking around as best she can, hoping to find answers alongside her sister. By the time the tour reaches Amsterdam, it’s intense and something is seriously wrong. Carly’s been kidnapped and held for ransom by a group determined not to let any amateur dancers stymie their plans. Julia will have to rely on those around her, while she tries to help the authorities crack the case wide open. Another Peterson winner that had me turning pages well into the night.

I was yet again captivated with the story PJ Peterson recounted without needing anything too complex and deep. The plot developed well, mixing humour with some nefarious activity and left the reader highly entertained throughout. There were moments of grit and hearty determination, offset by a lighter story about a dance troupe making their way across the European countryside. A cozy mystery right up my alley!

Dr. Julia Fairchild continues to work well as a protagonist in this series. A sleuth both at work and on holiday, Julia has a great intuitiveness, which emerges throughout the piece. Her backstory is minimal, but there are some moments of flashbacks, just enough to offer context at the right moment. Julia’s character develops well, again interacting with some heroic men, but also taking a leadership role when it comes to working the mystery before her. Truly a woman who enjoys her independence.

I have found a great book when able to devour it in a day or two. PJ Peterson offers up another wonderful cozy mystery, perfect for those who need something lighter to balance their hectic reading schedule. The narrative keeps its flow, offering the reader some momentum as they progress. The plot has a few twists to keep the reader on their toes and does not lag at any point. Strong characters and well-described settings help paint a delightful story. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next novel, sure it will pack the same punch.

Kudos, Madam Peterson, for another great novel. I’m glad to have stumbled on these books and hope others discover them as well.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: