TREAD LIGHTLY, MY DEAR by Eric Bercovici


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Here, Bercovici (Wolftrap, 1979; So Little Cause for Caroline, 1981) writes of an agreeably demented art scholar who is hired to prove authenticity of a manuscript--a task that involves him with an ex-wife (for whom he pines), his own charming, crooked father, and the late author's beautiful daughter, who says the book is a fraud. Amicus Maltese's dementia is actually quite mild, manifesting itself primarily in a tendency to voice his thoughts aloud at inappropriate times. The faint madness--which stems from the dissolution of his marriage to the delectable Fiona Maltese--does not interfere with his career as a freelance investigator of the provenance of art-works, using skills beaten into him by his father, the world's leading vendor of forgeries. A call from London has brought Maltese to the offices of Farrow and Farrow, Ltd., publishers of the best-selling works of Nobel laureate Oliver Godolphin. Seven years after Godolphin's death in a helicopter crash, Farrow and Farrow have received the manuscript of what may by Godolphin's last work. Godolphin's editor at F&F says it's indubitably by the master--the style's his to the letter, and the plot could only come from his mind. But the problem is that Miss Alexis Godolphin, heiress to the best-selling millions, says that the work is a fake and that she'll sue if it's published. Could Mr. Maltese clear this up? Mr. Maltese will try. . . Sophisticated, daffy, and very pleasurable comedy in the guise of a thriller.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1990
Publisher: Birch Lane/Carol