Long-lost paintings are not the only secrets a fine-art agent uncovers when she catalogs the contents of a Paris apartment that’s been shuttered for 73 years.
Flora Sykes is the head of European operations for Beaumont Fine Art Agency and the daughter of a former chief auctioneer at Christie’s. She knows how to put a price on priceless works of art, but her new clients, the Vermeil family, may cost her the rest of her career when they hire her to search their recently discovered property despite the patriarch’s request to leave it locked until after his widow’s death. Inside the home are hundreds of sketches and paintings—including works by Matisse, Dali, Pissarro, and Renoir—that her clients hope to bring to auction. The contrast between the moldy curtains and the colorful artwork gives the house an addictive image-gallery feel even before the skeletons emerge from the closet. But when the trail leading to where the artwork was purchased goes cold, Flora is faced with two chilling scenarios: in one, the artwork can’t be verified and loses its value; in the other, it can be traced to an unthinkable source, and the family loses its reputation. At the same time, Flora is stunned by tragic news involving her brother—news that stays hidden until the final chapters, when revealing it will cost Flora more than her pride. Like her paintings, Flora handles her secrets with care, and she considers people’s emotions as well as the facts as she attempts to solve the mystery in the Vermeils’ home and her own. So why does the Vermeils’ son, Xavier, who is by all outward appearances a spoiled playboy, have such an effect on her? As she races to find the paintings’ origins before they go to auction, she runs away from Xavier much more slowly—and looks back often—as her dispassionate diligence turns into blind passion.
Behind the locked door are shocking secrets, an unlikely romance, and nail-biting intrigue—it’s definitely worth a peek.