Cover image for Color of death
Color of death
Publication Information:
Hampton, N.H. : BBC Audiobooks America, p2004.
Physical Description:
10 sound discs (11 hr., 2 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:

Gemcutter Katherine Jessica Chandler's plans to cut The Seven Sins --seven extraordinary sapphires -- go awry when her messenger is killed. With the gems missing, Kate must discover the murderer to save her career and her life.


Material Type
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Audiobook SCD FICTION LOW 10 DISCS 1 1
Audiobook SCD FICTION LOW 10 DISCS 1 1

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When Arthur McCloud, the foremost collector of gemstones in the world, approaches jewel cutter Katherine Jessica Chandler to cut the Seven Sins-seven extraordinary sapphires worth millions-it is the opportunity of a lifetime, the crowning achievement of her career, and a job that must be executed seamlessly. Enlisting the help of the only man she can trust to transport the gems from McCloud's offices in Scottsdale, Arizona, to her studio in Sanibel Island, Florida, and back again, Kate discovers that even the most meticulous planning cannot allow for murder. With her messenger dead and the Seven Sins missing, Kate must discover the killer's identity to save her career-and her life.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Lowell is actually a pen name for the real person named Ann Charters Maxwell. Maxwell was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1944. She was educated at the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Riverside, where she received a B.A. in 1966. She married Evan Maxwell, a journalist, on September 4, 1966. They have published numerous novels together including The Silk Strategy, The Ruby, Steal the Sun, Redwood Empire, and The Golden Mountain.

Maxwell started her writing career in 1975 with the science fiction novel Change. She has written over 60 novels and one non-fiction book. The novels range from science fiction to historical fiction, from romance to mystery to suspense. She has written under numerous pen names including A. E. Maxwell, Annalise Sun, and Lowell Charters. In 1982, she began publishing romance novels as Elizabeth Lowell. She was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in 1994, Romance Writers of America Best Historical Romance in 1994, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. Her title Beautiful Sacrifice made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

The theft of seven extraordinary sapphires sparks a rash of murders in this fast-moving romantic thriller by Lowell (Die in Plain Sight; Running Scared). Kate Chandler, 33, is the cutter who shapes the stones for a wealthy Florida collector; her half-brother, Lee, is the courier she chooses to deliver them. Lee is more than careful, but an hour from his destination, the gems are stolen, and he disappears. Five months later, alleging that Lee stole the gems and decamped with a blonde to a Caribbean hideaway, the FBI closes the case. Kate and Lee's lover, Norm, know better, and Kate determines to discover the truth on her own. At a gem show in Scottsdale, she sees one of the precious sapphires at a shady dealer's booth and settles "into the odious business of flirting with a man she'd rather have scraped off her shoes," which leads to a confrontation with maverick FBI agent Sam Groves. In due course, they become allies and consequently, Groves, already unpopular with Bureau brass, finds his job at stake. The reader acquires a lot of esoteric information about gems, the principals share a sense of humor and eventually a bed; when the shady dealer and his wife are mercilessly murdered, Kate receives a death threat and the circle of suspects connected to her brother's disappearance widens. This is a diverting read for thriller fans. Agent, Dominick Abel. (June 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Kate Chandler is the gem cutter responsible for taking a rough sapphire and creating seven gorgeous stones called the Seven Sins. When they disappear along with the courier, her half-brother, Lee, she is the only one who believes that he didn't steal them. Kate tries to get the FBI and other authorities involved, but they assume that Lee stole the gems and is living the high life abroad, so she investigates on her own, starting at a gem show near her Arizona home. There she awakens the instincts of rogue FBI agent Sam Groves, who is part of a task force trying to stop the rise in gem thefts. He spots Kate palming an exceptional sapphire and intercepts her, but it's a beautiful fake and she ditches him. He tracks her down; Kate decides to trust him, and he, in turn, trusts her, jeopardizing his career to follow his hunch about the thieves in spite of his superiors' objections. Lowell deftly explores the underworld of the gem trade, treating readers to a nail-biting search for killers with an eye for glitter. --Patty Engelmann Copyright 2004 Booklist

Kirkus Review

Gem cutter gets cracking, from the hugely popular author of, most recently, Running Scared (2002). When her gay half-brother Lee Mandel disappears, Kat Chandler wants answers. Was Lee murdered by mysterious South American baddies trying to get their swarthy hands on the Seven Sins, rare natural sapphires that everyone wants? Could be--and Kat might have stumbled on the first of these matchless stones. Next: explanations. Lowell (a.k.a. mystery writer A.E. Maxwell, a husband-and-wife team) dutifully covers absolutely everything there is to know about precious and semi-precious stones, gem dealing, and the so-called science of gemology, providing exhaustive detail on various techniques to improve the appearance of colored stones and hence raise their value to unsuspecting buyers. A handsome cop pops up as a love interest and brawny shoulder to cry on, as do more bad guys, including Peyton Hall, the whining, ambitious, unscrupulous son of jewelry retailers and his bitchy girlfriend Sharon Sizemore, who's into picking her cuticles and watching porn when not plotting everyone's downfall. Were the Seven Sins stolen by Lee dressed in drag? Hey, maybe he's still alive! Is Jack Kirby, a former fed, in cahoots with Sharon's father, a hard-bitten security expert? And check out all those people skulking around in dopey disguises (the story's chock-a-block with wigs, stuffed bras, and even fake facial hair)--what's up with that? A few obligatory references to scary people like crack whores are thrown in here and there--as if this ladylike author ever got near one. In fact, much of this seems to have been written by someone else, and the dated tough-guy prose borders on the ridiculous: "White went out of the van like a hundred-and-seventy-pound cat. His lead-filled sap hit the base of her skull with a meaty sound." James Patterson-style microchapters, some not even a page long, keep things moving, but the end result is no big whoop. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

It starts with a simple disappearance: one person and seven flawlessly cut sapphires. The Seven Sins are Katherine Chandler's best work, and her half-brother, courier Lee Mandel, has absconded with them, or so it seems when he never makes his final destination. But Kate is convinced otherwise. She starts haunting gem shows, certain the Sins will make an appearance. What she finds is Sam Groves, FBI wild card. His bosses want him transferred to Fargo, ND, but Sam's gut tells him Kate is onto something--something, one hopes, that won't get them both killed. Carrington MacDuffie lends both elegance and credence to the reading. She makes it easy to envision Kate, her earnest beliefs and can-do attitude, and Sam, who loves his job but can't conform--he likes the truth too much. MacDuffie handles the large cast of characters easily and creates a compelling listen. Recommended for all fiction collections.--Jodi L. Israel, MLS, Jamaica Plain, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.



Color of Death, The Chapter One Sanibel, Florida November Lee Mandel spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder. It came with the job. But as he stretched contentedly in the February sun, he wasn't thinking about watching his back. He was smiling at the server who had the lithe body and optimism only people under thirty could manage. "Hey, you sure you've got the best shrimp on Sanibel Island?" Lee teased. "You bet your ass, sir." Lee laughed and waved off the server. "I'll have the usual. And coffee as fast as your big feet can manage. Oh, and bring a couple extra to-go bags, okay?" The young man grinned, reached behind his back, and pulled out two white paper bags with the café's Soup Or Shrimp logo printed in bright red down the side. "These do?" He dropped them in front of Lee. "I grabbed them as soon as I saw you coming up the stairs." Uneasiness snaked through Lee. He was becoming predictable. In his business that was not only stupid, it was dangerous. But he hadn't seen anyone following him when he drove over the bridges from the mainland to Sanibel Island. Besides, once the contents of the courier packet were transferred to a wrinkled takeout bag, no one would suspect what Lee knew for a fact: the gems were worth a million, minimum. Wholesale. In the future, he'd use something even less noticeable, maybe a brown paper bag like the winos. Usually the couriers who were carrying unique goods didn't have to worry as much as the guys carrying watches and engagement rings. Usually, but not always. For the last few years there had been rumors of a new gang working, one that targeted only the very highest end of portable and valuable goods. The good news was that the gang wasn't as rough as the South Americans. The new boys were slick and quiet. The server and his tight butt disappeared back into the dark, smoky café, leaving Lee alone to enjoy the winter sun. He shifted his chair so that his back was to the wall of the building and wondered what his sister, Kate, was doing now that she'd finished cutting and polishing the Seven Sins. Probably she was getting ready to hit the gem show circuit again and see if she could find some rough that would repay her time and effort to cut it. Maybe if Mom and Dad let up on the grandchild subject, she'd slow down and find a good man. As it is, they're driving her nuts as surely as they drove me. Guilt whispered through him. He should tell his parents. He really should, especially now that he'd found the man he wanted to spend his life with. He just didn't want the crap that would come after he came out of the closet, the tears and the where-did-we-go-wrong questions. His parents hadn't gone wrong. He just wasn't the son they'd expected. End of sad story. Conversation floated around Lee. Some of it came from the open-air ground-level parking lot directly under him. Nearly everything on Sanibel Island was built on stilts. When the hurricanes came, most of the mess just washed through underneath the buildings, leaving the higher living quarters more or less intact. "But I want to see the treasure!" The young girl's voice was high, stubborn, and all too clear as she emerged from a car out in the sunstruck parking lot that tourists invariably chose. Lee smiled slightly at the idea of sizzling upholstery and steering wheels too hot to hold, and he wondered if the snowbirds were afraid of the shadows between the pillars holding up the small shopping center. "We saw the Atocha stuff last year. Big deal." The parental voice was frayed and impatient. "All they want to do in that so-called museum is sell overpriced pieces of eight to the next sucker coming through the door." "I don't care. I want to see the gold coins and emeralds." Lee tuned out the girl's whine even as he wondered what she would say if she saw the seven extraordinary sapphires that were locked in the trunk of his car. Most of the time he didn't know what he was carrying in the anonymous packets he took from point A to point B for various courier companies, including the one his family owned. He enjoyed the freedom of being freelance. On this job, he just happened to be the son of the company's owner and the brother of the cutter, so he knew what the Seven Sins were and how much they were worth. Kate had been so excited about being commissioned to cut the extra fine quality sapphire rough that she'd called him and described the stones to him the way he'd describe a lover. He'd visited her twice in Arizona and been amazed at the progress from shapeless, dull bluish stone to exquisitely faceted gems that burned with an extraordinary blue color. He'd enjoyed watching Kate's excitement. For once it had seemed like she was years younger than he was, instead of eight years older. Not that he blamed her for being thrilled. It was a real coup for a relatively young cutter to score a high-end job like the rough from Arthur McCloud, one of the foremost collectors of gemstones in the world. She'd even asked that Lee courier the rough to her and then courier the cut and polished Seven Sins back to McCloud. Keeping it in the family, as it were. Squinting against the sun, Lee stared at the modest watch strapped to his left wrist. Quarter of eleven. Plenty of time. From the café, it was maybe fifteen minutes over a small bridge connecting Sanibel and Captiva islands. With luck he'd have an hour after he dropped off the stones on Captiva to go shelling on the falling tide and still make his flight out of Fort Myers to Los Angeles. Color of Death, The . Copyright © by Elizabeth Lowell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Color of Death by Elizabeth Lowell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.