Antiques dealer and amateur sleuth Lara McClintoch (The Etruscan Chimera, 2002) gets roped into investigating more than Southeast Asian antiques on her trip to Thailand. She’s expected to play surrogate parent to her boyfriend’s daughter Jennifer Lucza when she and her Thai almost-fiancé, Chat Chaiwong, introduce Jennifer to his family in Bangkok. But then Lara’s ex-husband insists that she help Natalie Beauchamp, whose husband Will, another antiques dealer, abandoned her and their developmentally disabled daughter two years ago to go live in Thailand. Apparently, Will has disappeared in Bangkok, and someone’s sent Natalie a mysterious package containing clippings about a society woman named Helen Ford suspected of murder 50 years ago—along with three terra-cotta Thai amulets, one deliberately broken. Natalie desperately needs either her decamped husband alive or proof of his death. Against her better judgment, Lara agrees to look for Will. In Bangkok, she and Jennifer live in luxury with Chat’s incredibly wealthy family. The hospitality sours, however, when Chat’s elderly father dies suddenly, and the machinations among his much younger wife, a powerful second-in-command, and a business rival who wants Chat to marry his daughter pull bookish Chat into the family’s business. Meanwhile, Lara discovers that Will disappeared on the brink of publishing a book about Helen Ford, and that the same painter once painted Helen Ford and the Chaiwong family. Could there be a connection 50 years later?
Lush local color balanced by an astringent view of Thai and expatriate greed: an entertaining tropical tragedy.