The Art of Living by Elaine Viets
I’m not a fan of most house museum tours – I don’t want to pay twenty bucks to look at rich people’s art and old furniture. There’s one exception:
Fort Lauderdale’s Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.
I can’t wait for you to read The Art of Murder, my new Dead-End Job mystery. The Art of Murder opens at Bonnet House, where I worked as a volunteer greeter.
Bonnet House, built in 1920, was the colorful home of artists Evelyn and Frederic Clay Bartlett. Evelyn took up collecting miniature orchids at age 101, and lived to be 109. Their house was filled with light, life and color.
Bonnet House was Frederic’s idea of a Caribbean plantation house. It’s built around a courtyard sheltered by feathery palms and bright with flowers. The house has whimsical touches: gilded baroque columns swirl around the drawing room doors, balconies are frosted with New Orleans wrought iron, and Evelyn’s collection of brightly painted wooden animals, including giraffes and ostriches, are everywhere.
Evelyn loved animals, and Bonnet House still has swans and a troupe of adorable Brazilian squirrel monkeys living on the grounds. The monkeys, the last of Evelyn’s pets, escaped from a bar. Hey, it’s Florida.
Frederic built Evelyn the charming Bamboo Bar and Shell Museum as a birthday present. Most men won’t even fetch their wives a drink, but Evelyn had a custom-built bar. Evelyn drank exotic Rangpur lime cocktails, made from maple syrup, rum, and Rangpur limes she grew in the gardens. Considering how long she lived, her Rangpur lime cocktails were health drinks.
Vibrant Bonnet House seemed the perfect place to start Helen’s fifteenth adventure. Helen and Margery are touring the mansion-turned-museum when they see Annabel Lee Griffin, a young, talented artist, at a museum painting class. Later, they also see Annabel’s deadly end. Helen is hired to investigate her death. Was Annabel killed by her jealous husband? Her best friend? A lover from her bohemian past? Helen has her own brush with death as she searches for this artful killer.
Next time you’re in Fort Lauderdale, visit the Bonnet House museum at bonnethouse.org. It’s even prettier than these Website photos. See how Frederic and Evelyn mastered the art of living.
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Elaine Viets is the author of 29 mysteries in three series, both hard-boiled and cozy: the Dead-End Job mysteries, the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries, and the Francesca Vierling mysteries. She has won the Anthony, Agatha and Lefty Awards.
Follow her at www.elaineviets.com, ElaineVietsMysteryWriter on Facebook and @evmysterywriter.