Rolltop Relic is a cozy mystery set in Western Pennsylvania where Laurel Adams is helping her grandmother at Laurel Creek Antiques when they discover a gold reliquary inside a rolltop desk. Laurel wants to seek the owner while her grandmother plans to keep it and sell it.
Rushford Gaites, the father of their teenage helper, sides with Laurel and dives into the research with her and his son Tim, so he can write an article about the relic's chest, which looks like it contains a piece of the crown of thorns. During their investigation they also discover a stained-glass window of Mary holding up her son and call it The Madonna of the Crown.
There is a mutual attraction between Rush and Laurel, but she's engaged to a gallery owner in Chicago, and Rush is still married to Tim’s mother though separated. Laurel and Rush decide their relationship must remain an intellectual one based on guarding the reliquary from several parties willing to kill to get it, while the couple plums the secrets of its origin so they can return it to the rightful owners.