THE APHRODITE by David Chandler


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Eric Galloway, director of the Midwest's International Art Museum, sets out to get hold of a knockout masterpiece, thereby restoring the financially strapped institution's reputation and saving it from takeover by corporate titan Maxwell Lykens. Not incidentally, the acquisition will also save Galloway's own professional bacon. His game plan is to deaccession part of the museum's collection and gain wherewithal to corral the major prize: Praxiteles' long-lost, now-found nude statue of Aphrodite. The mere suggestion of such a coup touches off a ministampede that vaults from the West Coast to Beirut and at one point has Archbishop Makarios hanging on for dear life in a getaway car driven by Galloway's sassy lady. Realistic art world machinations are laid out picturesquely, if somewhat heavily at times (other museum's acquisitional goofs are belabored unto death), and friends and foes are a yeasty crew: cold and nasty Lykens; a Howard Hughesian recluse hoarding a motherlode of German expressionism in his desert fortress; a legendary dealer who already has murdered three times for the statue; an admirably slimy opportunist named Kebabian. All bounces along to the Final fifth of the yarn, where, unfortunately, matters brake noticeably and some elongated padding leads to an anti-climactic finish. A short postlude then settles everybody's hash in ten words or less. So-so slam-bang from eclectic, churning Chandler--with added frills for Sunday museum-goers.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1977
Publisher: Morrow