THIEF OF LIGHT by David Ramus


Email this review


A drossy embarrassment from former art dealer and recovering heroin addict Ramus, a man who reportedly lost a king's ransom (five million) when the bottom fell out of the New York art market in the 1980s, but got a fifth of it back for this debut novel. Adrian Sellars, a junkie who's leveraged his gallery into major debt, harbors an attraction to dicey get-rich-quick schemes--all hallmarks of the go-go '80s art-dealer affliction. Not entirely dissolute, however, Sellars shelters a secret heart of gold and at least a strand of moral fiber, though the Japanese gangsters to whom he's been selling forgeries of French Impressionist masterpieces couldn't care less about his ethics. Matters get nasty when Sellars's forger meets a violent death at the hands of a pair of street hoods, who destroy a copy of Monet's ""Water Lilies"" before they murder the unfortunate painter and remove his ears. Sellars's Japanese connection, a remorseless evildoer named Tanaka, puts the dealer on the clock to locate a replacement Monet, which spins Sellars into a downward spiral of hustling and heroin abuse that culminates in the killing of his partner. Desperate, Sellars turns to his foxy assistant, Devon Berenson, for help, and she comes through in spades: Not only does she hide him while he goes cold turkey and then sleep with him, but she convinces him to visit a patrician art-restorer who provides a real Monet as bait for the Japanese. Ramus mates the cultural paranoia of Reservoir Dogs with the adolescent sleuthing of the Hardy Boys before staging a prolonged final showdown between Sellars and the Japanese heavies that features an assassination, a double-cross, and a cameo by retired tennis star John McEnroe. A juvenile caper failing to pass itself off as a cautionary tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins