"Death in a Bygone Hue" By Susan Van Kirk: Review/Giveaway

 Review by Kathleen Costa

 Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Brush Strokes with … Murder?

Jill Madison returned to her hometown Apple Grove, Illinois, after accepting an offer to be the executive director for an art center bearing her mother’s name, The Adele Marsden Center for the Arts. She manages the center’s art gallery, schedules special programs and a wide range of classes, monitors a weaver’s guild, and currently is preparing for their first national art exhibit. Art is also a personal passion, but it is not without its problems. Jill’s work is closely monitored by one board member with his frequent intrusive, often threatening texts. Ivan the Terrible, as she notes, is not a fan, and with only a few months having passed since the robbery, murder, and general mayhem, he’s been her constant shadow.

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Image Source Level Best Books
Death in a Bygone Hue
Earns 5+/5 Family … Engaging & Endearing Gem!

Judge Ron Spivey is one of Jill’s closest family friends and she enjoys joining him every Saturday for lunch and spirited conversations about art (the judge is an avid, eclectic collector) and the Art Center (the judge is a member of the board as its treasurer). They also reminisce about his late wife and her late parents with whom the judge was very close. However, the voice mail he left for Jill was quite puzzling; the judge asked her to provide him with names of companies that specialized in forensic art analysis. It isn’t unusual for a true collector to seek such services, but is there a specific concern that makes an expert necessary? He also referred to a “surprise” he had for Jill which was of great intrigue. But, it is more a shocking surprise when Jill arrives at the judge’s home finding the front door unlocked, the housekeeper gone, and the judge dead!

The shock of the judge’s death pales in comparison to the shock that Judge Spivey named Jill his executor which included a substantial fee for her time and effort in executing his wishes. The will makes no accommodation for his two adult children, John and Erika, who believed their father’s ample estate and art collection was solely theirs. But, the most shocking development is that the judge’s death was not health related, but murder. As the finger pointing begins, Jill is hard pressed to explain all the whys. Why was she put in charge? Why were his children overlooked? Why did she and the Art Center receive such a substantial benefit? Why did he need an art expert? And most importantly, why is any of this a motive for murder?

Masterpiece of Mystery!

Susan Van Kirk combines the various “hues” of an engaging mystery in her second book of the Art Center Mystery series: clever investigation, diverse characters, page-turning intrigue, a personal stake, informative details, perilous predicaments, and a “didn’t see that coming” arrest. It has it all! This complex journey had many engaging sides capturing my attention from the tragic death of a close friend to curious inclusions and omissions in the will, from the judge’s disgruntled adult children to an interfering tabloid reporter, from past secrets, hidden agendas, and misleading clues to suspicions, accusations, and real danger. Nothing was obvious, an entertaining challenge for me, with both the judge’s personal and professional life requiring close scrutiny. Jill is a strong, clever lead, and I appreciate that she enlists realistic investigative methods and doesn’t circumvent law enforcement, well, most of the time. Her supportive family dynamic, which includes the sheriff, collaboration with her BFF, and a hint of romance, introduced in book one, adds to the personal side of the character, but the ins and outs of the art center drama continue as a central theme. A personal favorite no one should miss!

An Art Center Mystery

Death of a Pale Hue (2022) KRL Review HERE

Death of a Bygone Hue (2023)

Be a Big Fan of Susan Van Kirk!

Susan Van Kirk may be a late-bloomer, “I began writing at age sixty ACL [After Children Left],” but her work is relevant and engaging. Her Endurance Mystery series, with which I have become a big fan, focuses on a retired English teacher Grace Kimball. After her publisher’s change in direction, she, too, took hers with A Death at Tippit Pond, first in her Sweet Iron Mystery starring Beth Russell, a genealogist and historical researcher. Having jumped into the deep end of the writing pool, she’s now released this new series following young artist Jill Madison. All well-worth reading!

Facebook: Susan Van Kirk, Author

Website Susan Van Kirk

Twitter: @susan_vankirk

Instagram: instagram.com/susanivankirk

Enter to win a signed copy of Death in a Bygone Hue by Susan Van Kirk by making a comment below about the world of art: (1) a favorite museum experience, (2) a favorite artist in any medium, or (3) are you a doer or a ponderer of art? or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "bygone,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 24, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I'm neither a ponderer or a doer of art...I'm an attempter!

    1. I'd say that definitely describes me too, Glen.

  2. My grandfather was an artist. My parents were
    artists (mother painted porcelain). I can't draw
    a straight line and my shading is terrible. So glad
    I have so many pieces that all of them produced
    through the years. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. How amazing that you have so many artists in your family. And lucky you that you have their artwork to treasure. We all have different talents, don't we?

  3. Have visited Lourve Museum eons ago, and the experience is phenomenal! That Mona Lisa painting!! My mother in law loved painting and crafting, and she's the one I look up to! We hang a lot of her paintings around the house, and I have a number of her porcelain paintings as my home library decor..
    I work at a school of the Arts, and I have observed some of my students are great artists!!

    1. Wow. Sounds like you are surrounded by art, Emily. Lucky you! I've visited quite a few museums in Rome, and, of course, the Sistine Chapel. What an amazing city for seeing artwork. You're fortunate to be able to nurture young artists!

  4. I guess I'm a pondered of art. I don't have an artistic bone in my body.

    1. I'm pretty close to you, Dianne, so fortunately I can write about it by researching and by asking questions of artists in my area. That's helped my books tremendously. You can still read about art!

  5. I love your covers, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com

  6. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham

  7. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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