- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From the Publisher
Writing a good mystery series about art cops and robbers means walking a fine line between erudition and excitement. The Brits do it well: from Kyril Bonfiglioli's books about shady art dealer Charlie Mortdecai and Jonathan Gash's always readable Lovejoy series, to the three art experts--two Italian, one English--who add zest to Ian Pears' enjoyable books and John Malcolm's excellent series about former rugby football ace Tim Simpson, who now advises a British bank's art fund.
On this side of the pond, nobody does it better than Nicholas Kilmer, whose books (""Harmony in Flesh and Black"" and ""Man With a Squirrel"" are two of his more memorable efforts) feature two remarkable art lovers: Fred Taylor, a mysterious man of many physical skills (some of which he refined in places like Vietnam and Thailand) and a roughedged but surprisingly deep knowledge of art history; and Clayton Reed, a rich and eccentric collector whose home on Boston's posh Beacon Hill is full of tasty valuables.
Kilmer's latest book is a ""When Fred Met Clayton"" prequel that starts when Taylor--deciding whether to sleep in the park or go back to the private mission house filled with tattered Vietnam veterans and other formerly homeless street people that he runs in Charlestown--helps Reed take an apparently drunk con man, Franklin Tilley, back to Tilley's nearby apartment, which is stuffed with obvious fakes but also genuine treasures. There Reed sees an old chest, which he buys. Taylor helps him carry it home, and inside they find what they both quickly come to believe is an unknown painting by Leonardo da Vinci--""the subject almost grotesque, the finish exquisite in its precision.""
The painting isthe ""Madonna of the Apes"" of the book's title, and even someone once labeled ""a visual zero"" by a painter friend can share the excitement and erudition of Kilmer's description: ""On the left a woman in blue--the Virgin, clearly, although she bore no halo--sat in a rocky landscape struggling to contain the exuberance of a naked boy child--Jesus, but again lacking a halo--who was twisting away in order to reach for a fruit, a fig, that a crouching ape on the right was offering.""
At another point, Kilmer--a painter and art dealer himself--has Taylor think, ""You knew a work of art in the same way you recognized the killer's scent, because it made your hair stand up, and brought back the fear."" And isn't that why we read mysteries? -- Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune, 10/23/05