When Grace Wheaton and her boss, Bennett Marshfield, turn up at the Italian villa of one of his oldest friends, they're troubled to discover that most of his friend's impressive art collection - including a prized bronze skull crafted by Picasso - is fake. Someone has been selling the real deals and replacing them with skilled forgeries.
Unfortunately, Grace and Bennett have to fly home the next day, so there's no time to investigate. But their troubles are hardly over. On the plane, Grace catches a woman trying to poison Bennett. The woman, of course, isn't talking, but by the end of the flight, there are two dead bodies. Now Grace has to wing it to find a mile-high murderer - especially since she suspects Bennett is still in danger.
In Grace Takes Off by Julie Hyzy, Grace Wheaton is visiting Italy with her rich collector employer, Bennett Marshfield, on a trip to locate art for Bennett's house-turned-into-museum. On their last day they stay with Bennett's childhood friend, Nico, a fellow collector. But Bennett is disturbed to discover that a bronze skull created by Picasso that the men discovered when they were young is a fake. Then, Bennett's and Grace's chartered flight back to America, where Bennett must be the next day for a crucial meeting, gets cancelled when the pilot gets arrested. They manage to join up with a musical band on their chartered flight, but things turn ugly when Grace catches one of the passengers trying to poison Bennett's meal. Things escalate into a very intense situation that ends with two dead. Grace returns with foreboding about the safety of her boss, who also is likely her uncle.
The book follows an intricate passage through the lives of various people as the case gets more and more raveled before it can get unraveled. I was really pleased with this book, as it rivals the details and quality of the first book in the series, Grace under Pressure. I appreciate the way the many details do not feel too convoluted to follow but rather kept me glued to the book as I listened to it in one 9-hour sitting (or rather lying in bed with my migraine). I listen to my audiobooks to distract myself from my pain, but when the pain gets especially bad, I need something light and essy to follow. The fact that I was able to enjoy this detailed book during a severe bout with my pain is a testament to the quality of this fantastic book.
The characters in this book really come alive and develop through the series. We see Grace becoming wiser while more cautious about the men in her life. We also really get to enjoy our time with Grace's secretary, Frances. Abrasive on the outside and downright hostile to Grace at the beginning of the series, Frances begins to show more heart while trying to disguise that from the world. But the character who develops the most is Hillary, the step-daughter of Bennett Marshfield. We've always seen her as a selfish snob, but here she begins to show a real person underneath that facade.
Emily Durante performs the audio edition of this book very ably. Her development of the characters' voices suits them well. In addition, she does a good job of creating accents, and in the penultimate scene the speakers change rapidly, which Durante handles adroitly.
I really love the writing of Julie Hyzy and found Grace Takes Off to be a great book by her. The writing style is very strong, while the plot is intriguing. I give this book five stars.