From the outset, you’re drawn into this thrilling, gripping novel revealing the underbelly in the world of art sellers and collectors, particularly when it comes to stolen works of art. Barr, a brilliant storyteller and eloquent wordsmith, turns her attention to history of Nazi-looted art, secretive black market private sales, falsified ownership papers, and restoration of works to the families of their original Jewish owners. No part of the art world goes unscathed, from museums looking the other way to greedy Wall Street types to unscrupulous gallery dealers.
Young journalist Jules Roth, after brashly making her way into the Chicago office of newspaper editor and award-winning journalist Dan Mansfield, proves herself an intrepid investigator. She quickly gains Dan’s admiration to the point that he brings her into a private investigation for close friend Ellis Baum, a famous shoe designer, who is dying and wants to reclaim the portrait, Woman on Fire. by Famous German Expressionist artist Ernst Engel, that got seized from his family by the Nazis.
Up to this point, Ellis has kept his Jewish family background secret from even his own family, including his brilliant, handsome artist grandson Adam who’s sequestered himself alone in a Montana cabin after having succumbed to heroin during his meteoric rise as a hot artist in New York city. Sparks fly between Jules and Adam, but Dan has a hard and fast rule of no personal relationships during an investigation. Jules and Dan, with Adam’s help, go on the hunt to uncover more about Ellis’ past and connection to the Woman on Fire painting and find out where it is.
Meanwhile, seductive, treacherous art gallery owner Margaux de Laurent wants to find the painting first and will go to almost any length to find it, as it had personal meaning to her French grandfather who owned it for a brief time before being claimed a second time by the Nazis. Margaux has a French estate on which she keeps key works of art collected by her grandfather, as well as artwork she intends to sell. Also, the evil Margaux has a past with Adam as she facilitated his rise to fame, as well as his drug addiction.
These disparate plots weave together and crescendo into unexpected revelations and an edge-of-your-seat plot that culminates a splashy Art Basel party in Miami.
You walk away feeling your heart racing and with a deeper appreciation of both the world of art and the enduring toll of the Holocaust on its victims.
In you haven’t read Barr’s other outstanding works, be sure to add Fugitive Colors and The Unbreakables to the top of your reading list!
Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced reader’s copy of this book.