” Jack sat back in the cab seat and tried to work out what Petrescu’s next move might be. He still couldn’t make up his mind if she was a professional criminal or a complete amateur. And where did Tina Forster fit into the equation? Was it possible that Fenston, Leapman, Petrescu and Forster were all working together? (Ch.26, p.202)
Lady Victoria Wentworh was found dead in her bedroom, on the day before the sale of her family heirloom, a famous Van Gogh painting, becomes final. Rumor has it that after her father’s death, Victoria was left with considerable debts. The only plausible to salvage the family estate is to sell the painting. False Impression involves an international conspiracy to nick a Van Gogh self-portrait with a bandaged ear. Victoria is the latest victim of a series of murders that share one thing in common: she has large outstanding loans with Fenston Finance in New York City.
Bryce Fenston is more a fiend than a connoisseur in paintings by great masters. His adviser, Anna Petrescu, is surprised that he has already had the painting shipped to New York before Lady Victoria has the chance to act on her recommendations. Then Anna realizes that Fenston is more interested in having the Van Gogh than clearing the English aristocrat’s debts. Due to the 9/11 attack, all US airports were closed. The plane carrying the painting has to return to London, and Anna has to outpace Fenston to get her hands on the painting.
False Impression follows her cat-and-mouse chase around the world from New York during the tragic events of 9/11, to England, Romania, Hong Kong, Japan and back. Maintaining a fairly steady pace, the novel combines criminal conspiracy, a ruthless former Ceaușescu bodyguard turned assassin, a Japanese art collector, a Romanian art professor, and an opportunistic banker who amasses wealth by swindling clients out of inheritance. It’s more a crime thriller than a mystery, since the murderer is revealed early on, and is on Anna’s trail.
The book is highly convoluted, promised at every turn of the page are many twists. Anna’s conviction has me riveted as she constantly outsmarts, outwits her enemies, but only narrowly. Deception and decoy abound. It’s also making fun of the ignorance of those would amass arts pieces without knowing arts.
512 pp. St. Martin’s. Pocket Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]