The author's architect/sleuth Jamie Ramsgill (Ruins of Civility, 1996, etc.) wants to give up teaching and hopes to join the commercial Philadelphia firm in which his old friend David Laycutt is a partner. Jamie has also contacted his long-estranged brother Michael, a Philadelphia lawyer married to Cate, and the assistant curator at the Philadelphia Museum. Arriving for his job interview, however, Jamie finds that Laycutt has disappeared, leaving behind an envelope with an address in the town of Jim Thorpe, taking with him a gun and most of the company's cash. All of this has to do with a painting by Thomas Eakins, once owned by a Mrs. Addison, eventually sold by her to Laycutt and collector Harold Farber. It was first declared a fake, then pronounced genuine but copied at one point by painter Major Devero, who lives in Jim Thorpe. His blackmailing letter has led to Laycutt's sudden departure. Jamie takes it upon himself to follow Laycutt to Devero's address, but he's powerless to stop the carnage that ensues. As for the Eakins painting, the peregrinations of both original and copy are lost in a dizzying morass of confusion--a description that could equally apply to a well-written but exasperating story that loses credibility with each succeeding chapter. It's a challenge to carry on to the finish. Most readers won't.