THE GOLD FRAME by Herbert Resnicow


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Following the sprightly Gold Solution (1983) and the disappointing Gold Deadline (p. 328): a third, so-so case for smug genius Alexander Gold of N.Y.C.--abetted, as usual, by narrator-wife Norma (a tart giantess) and friend Pearl. This time the artistically inclined detectives are hired by 80-year-old D. P. Belmont, virtual ""owner"" of the Fine Arts Museum of New York: he wants Alexander to determine whether or not the Museum's prospective $10 million purchase, a newly discovered Vermeer, is a forgery. (Though it has passed all technical tests, the Museum's own expert--old Miss Becker, an obsessed Vermeer restorer/copyist--swears it's a fake,) But, just as the Vermeer problem is being tackled, a murder occurs: the Museum's universally loathed director, shady Orville Pembrooke, has been stabbed with an oyster knife while eating his usual champagne-and-oysters lunch in his private museum dining-room! Are the two puzzles connected? How can it be that only the victim's fingerprints are on the murder knife? And which of the Museum curators (the only possible culprits, geographically speaking) did the deed? The answers--revealed by Alexander in one of those traditional gatherings-of-suspects--are less than satisfying. (The one nice touch: an Agatha Christie-ish explanation for the fingerprint mystery.) And the nearly all-talk format wears thin now and then, with only mild amusement in the group chatter. (Pearl seems especially extraneous this time around.) But many readers will appreciate the museum-world details--restoration, authentication, publicity, graft--and the double-puzzle helps to make this a somewhat richer diversion than the dullish Gold Deadline.

Pub Date: Dec. 26th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's