Author: B.A. Shapiro
Provided Synopsis: 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.
Review: A decent enough story that I believe those interested in art history, restoration, and forgery techniques will enjoy far more than I did. Claire, the protagonist, is a talented artist who has been reduced to painting reproductions of famous paintings to make ends meet due to a scandal that occurred three years ago which has resulted in the art world snubbing her. Claire and the author reiterate numerous times that it is not illegal to paint reproductions and sell them as a reproduction. It is, however, illegal to reproduce a painting and attempt to sell it as the original. Unfortunately Claire becomes involved in the latter; the catch is that she is quick to recognize that the painting she has been given is not the original piece it as been heralded as, but another forgery. So where is the real Degas painting? What happens when circumstances spiral out of control to include the worst-possible scenario?
There’s no denying this is a well-researched story; I learned a lot about forgeries, dealers, and painters. What was missing from this was some sort of spark that would have helped to draw me in a bit more. I often felt as if I were coasting through the story, neither completely involved nor quite willing to close it yet since I did not have another book to read. I’m not sure that is a good thing…