Verifying the authenticity of a controversial Titian proves a deadly assignment for a resourceful, and not entirely lawful, art appraiser.
While enjoying the summer bustle in Budapest’s Vörösmarty Square, Attila Feher watches a long-legged redhead who has a short exchange with a man Attila recognizes as the slightly disreputable owner of a posh art shop before she makes a beeline for the Gellért Hotel. Retired from the Budapest Police Department but still in possession of his detective skills, Attila follows. The redhead’s name is Helena Marsh, the red hair is a wig, and at the Gellért she totally changes her appearance. Porter discloses the reason for her deceptions, and her presence in Budapest, in tantalizing bits. Helena’s been brought to the city to verify the authenticity of a Titian being sold by local Dr. Krestin. Helena’s a thorn in the side of some felonious “Ukrainians.” Porter’s offbeat thriller yields tension and humor from its revolving perspectives as well as its deep bench of colorful supporting characters, all obsessed with nationality, be they Canadian, Russian, American, or something else. When a murder victim is discovered in Helena’s hotel room, Attila reveals that he’s working freelance for the Budapest police but, when push comes to shove, will he stand with or against Helena?
This peppy thriller from Porter (Kasztner's Train, 2008, etc.) bursts with banter and tantalizes the reader with half-revelations and game-changing twists. Not a nail-biter but definitely a romp.