All Mike Manship, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wants to do is stage the definitive show of Renaissance painter Botticelli. But in this mordant, grisly thriller, his single-minded pursuit of that idea quickly leads him afoul of a prissy but lethal neo-fascist, an ambitious serial killer, and (almost as dangerous) double-dealing rivals at the Met. Lieberman (Sandman, Sleep, 1993, etc.) shows a pro's pacing here, moving events swiftly along and mixing a series of alarms and escapes with spare but pungent details of the art world. Manship has already managed to borrow most of Botticelli's greatest paintings for the show, and has even been able to buy some less well-known works. But a shadowy fascist organization is threatening retaliation should any of Botticeili's art be allowed to leave the country. (At the same time, it gradually becomes apparent that a serial killer who has claimed several dozen victims in recent years in Rome has taken some kind of perverse interest in the exhibit.) All of this comes to a head when the charming Manship recruits Isobel Cattaneo to attend the opening of the show. That's important because the beautiful, strong-minded Isobel is a direct descendant of Simonetta, the model for Botticelli's most astonishing paintings (The Birth of Venus, Primavera). Isobel quickly becomes an object of interest to the fascists and the serial killer, who has been pursuing a nauseating plan to replicate Botticelli's paintings using the bodies of his victims. There's a believably edgy romance involving Mike and Isobel, and a tense climactic battle between the killer and the lovers in the corridors of the Met on the show's opening night. Lieberman's knowing portrait of the international art world, the tautly paced plot, and his two complex, believable protagonists make this a highly effective work, though some may find the details of the serial killer's labors decidedly unpleasant.