The perils of hubris are on display in Belfoure’s impressive debut, as a Maryland architect goes to murderous lengths to salvage the design of his art museum.
Allan Aisquith entered the architectural fray with all the right qualifications: a graduate degree from Columbia University, impressive internships and a post-graduate job with Ranah Marhedi, the hottest design superstar around. After three years of hard work, Allan starts his own firm, and his initial commission is a house for a Harvard-trained lawyer. But he takes a dive on his very first job, when his beautiful redwood-and-glass sketch is vetoed by the client. His failed debut sets a pattern, and for the next 19 years Allan deliberately compromises his drawings, a sell-out that generates loads of cash: He buys a nice car and a co-op overlooking Central Park, and travels frequently. Finally, too ashamed of his groveling to face his colleagues, he moves to Baltimore, an architectural backwater. Suddenly and without explanation, he’s offered a job designing the Addington Museum on property overlooking Chesapeake Bay. Viewing this as a last chance for redemption, Allan designs a lovely building to house the museum’s art collection. Alas, an attorney with the Addington Foundation requests major changes to the design, and reveals that Allan was hired because of his reputation for concession. The attorney is quickly dispatched via a â€œfreak accident,” and Allan, whose design remains intact, has already begun his descent into murderous rage.
Belfoure’s satirical murder mystery consistently entertains, and whiny, grouchy Allan is a character readers will love to hate.