Paint the town lead and the FBI, along with forensic geologist Em Hansen, are soon snapping at your easel.
Em (Killer’s Dust, 2002, etc.) is in a funk. Her boyfriend Jack is off fighting terrorists. Her best friend Faye, the widow of her mentor, FBI agent Tom Latimer, evidently enthralled with wealthy gallery owner Tert Krehbeil, is distancing herself and her baby Sloane from Em. Her thesis advisor wants her to finish up by December, and she hasn’t even settled on a topic. Then Tert hires her to establish the authenticity of a Frederic Remington painting sequestered in his family for years. Geologists may not know much about art, but they know quite a bit about pigment breakdown, and Em, with specialist help in Wyoming, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, is soon mired in an analysis of hunter’s green, chrome yellow, and literally dead white that’s left heaps of lead everywhere, including within three of Tert’s recently deceased relatives. Is Tert eager to sell the homestead to developers ready to split it into endless parcels with identical McMansions? Is he poisoning his sickly mother and his elder sister, who suffers from neuropathy? Is he or someone else in his bloodline a forger? Em resorts to carbon-14 dating, emulsion analysis, and a primer in stable isotopes, allowing her to close the case and dispel her funk.
A quick course in paint composition that may send unwary readers off for frequent leaves of absence.