On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life. (summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
As an art fan, I found this book fascinating. Shapiro cleverly weaves real historical events with the scenes in the book in a very believable way. The flashbacks were well done and provide background, but from a lesser writer could have made the book a drag. Additionally, the painting description and forgery techniques are accurate which added an another layer of interest to me.
Claire herself is relatable and endearing, but caught in the question of “What are you willing to do to follow your dreams?”. In the end, I was rooting for Claire and could not keep away as she became more and more immersed in the web of curators, critics, forgers, galleries and gallery owners. The twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing and the ending still had a big reveal.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who Should Read It? Art fans or anyone interested in reading a light mystery book without violence.