Insinuendo: Murder in the Museum

Publication: October 2012, Bayeux Arts,


Review from Kendrie Richardson, Muse, the journal of Canadian Museums Association: It is a brilliant novel that manages to present ordinary museum life in an extraordinary circumstance and enthralls readers who are taken on a fictional journey through a real-life setting.

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Berry Cates has undergone a “radical lifectomy”, remaking her life at fifty-three, newly single and in a new career. But in her first job as an artifacts conservator, she is faced with answering why a visiting expert may have died from arsenic housed in her lab.

Determined to prove false these accusations against her and the conservation lab, Berry instead gets into deeper trouble. Her sleuthing uncovers museum staff casting illicit bronzes and blackmail being delivered via a Roman curse tablet. The conservation of a painting reveals evidence of curatorial fraud. Arsenic was an old preservation method used against insects, and Aboriginal people are accusing the museum of poisoning their heritage regalia with pesticides.

Only when Berry realizes she has been asking the wrong questions does she stop sliding down the snake of museum deceit and begin to climb the ladder of solving the mystery.

Dial M for Museum.


In “Insinuendo: Murder in the Museum” the complexities of respect and integrity are explored with humour by characters in what some consider “height of career” middle age: Berry Cates, the protagonist, has started her life over after a divorce and finds herself as a new intern in the Conservation Lab. The museum’s director, the same age, appears to have it all but relies on a museum guard for a view beyond the ivory tower. The taciturn guard herself has recycled her life and beaten the despair in her own background. All three women must extricate themselves from suspected involvement in a murder.

In addition to a story of intrigue in the world of art and artifacts, other themes are explored as well in this novel — the experience of work and being an employee, and of growing older: how the child can live on in the adult (as the past lives on in museum collections), as well as the effects of growing older, and growing up, on one’s body and on one’s beliefs, including in what is right.

The novel is set in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is a traditional mystery whose story is entirely fictional but based in a real world setting and on characters who could truly have existed.


Available for purchase from your favourite independent bookstore as well as (or internationally, the Amazon website that best serves your country), Indigo/Chapters, and Barnes and Noble. If you have any difficulty buying Insinuendo, please contact the author; you can buy a signed copy from her at the regular price.

Insinuendo cover picture