Counterfeit Conspiracies – Ritter Ames

I’m afraid I didn’t last long with this book either, Netgalley or no Netgalley. The first bump could have been turned into an asset, but … nope: “the Dobermans, Zeus and Apollo”. This could be awesome, or simply annoying. Unfortunately, the jury came out with “annoying”.

As often happens, there was a fair amount of awkwardness in the writing. Example: the main character goes Mission: Impossible and sprays something into the air to reveal infrared beams, the breaking of which will set off an alarm. That’s what occurred. What was written, though, was that she took out a “small, specially formulated aerosol can”. Okay. What does it mean that the can was specially formulated? In point of fact, wasn’t it the contents of the can which should have been the thing being described? It’s sort of nit-picky – but the reason I pick on these nits is because they’re not unique. When I give an example like this it’s because it’s typical of the writing.

The main character is a thief. It’s easy for me to enjoy a story about a jewel thief or some such, where a clever thief uses skill and cunning to steal from the rich and give to … himself. I mean, it’s terrible when a piece of jewelry which constitutes a work of art is broken up, but for the most part I can sit comfortably feeling no sympathy for the wronged wealthy and admiration for the clever cat burglar.

But when it comes to art, paintings in particular, it’s a whole different ball game. While I can enjoy the exploits of a John Robie (especially if he’s played by Cary Grant), I am never going to be able to get behind an art thief. But, you (or the author) may say, this art thief is stealing from thieves, reclaiming art looted by the Nazis and restoring it to the family it came from. And that’s wonderful. That’s laudable. If the book hadn’t gone the so-clever route of presenting the theft first and explaining the motive after (which I have just spoiled) I might have kept going. But when one of the first things I read is:

“I slipped a blade from my belt and ran it along the frame’s edge”

My first impression of the main character is intense loathing. I don’t see that going away, so – thanks, Netgalley and publisher, but no thanks.

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