The Estate Appraiser

Estate Appraiser small(a long short story about antiques, art and vintage murder)

With an art history degree clutched in her freshly graduated hand, Lydia Davenport faces a major problem. She’s unemployed, has exhausted the local job market, and the bills are stacking up. In a desperate scramble to find a paycheck, she hits up a former teacher for advice and strikes paydirt when Professor Baumgarten offers temporary work. Soon Lydia finds herself at creepy Melbourne House, the country estate of legendary playboy Machiavelli Montrose. While inventorying the estate for the family lawyers, she learns about the mysterious death that occurred in the old house after a weekend of debauchery. Punctuated by artifacts of an era celebrated for its gratuitous sex and drugs, Lydia stumbles over examples of 1960s kitsch scattered among legitimate pop-art. The nearly empty house is a letdown until an unexpected find brings the task to an abrupt close.

Available in digital and print at:

Read an excerpt:

“The visual was right out of a classic B movie. The house squatted at the end of a long drive, surrounded by thick stands of maple, beech, and birch trees. The windows were dark. I wondered if they were too dirty to reflect the weak sunlight or shuttered. Nothing looked amiss as we drove closer, but if a monstrous figure shambled around the corner of the structure or a banshee started wailing from an upper window, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I’d spent my PG13 years watching movies featuring houses just like this one. I knew nothing good ever came of going inside. The setting was equally cinematic. Overgrown trees and shrubs flanked the drive, draping over the roofline like leafy shrouds. Despite the general air of neglect, the house itself looked to be in decent shape. There were no broken windows or screens hanging askew, not even a crooked shingle. The paint had long ago flaked on the trim work, leaving a crackled effect. ”