SOLD! by Nan & Ivan Lyons Lyons
Kirkus Star


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After the grossly inflated cutesiness of Champagne Blues, the authors of Someone Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe are back in breezy top form--with a totally implausible, thoroughly diverting tale of treasure troves, family secrets, Kremlin defectors, and country/city auctioneering. The country auctioneer is Dully Patterson of upstate N.Y., who runs the Nickel Man auction barn with her two married brothers. . . and who gets a surprise when going through the shabby belongings of the late, heir-less Miss Natalie Corbett: 96 velvet boxes--in an old trunk--containing 96 FabergÉ masterpieces (including seven eggs) which have been missing since the Russian Revolution! Duffy, no fool, gets the authenticity of the stuff checked out down at Wyndham & Sons in Manhattan. But she's determined to do the multi-million-dollar auctioning herself--in the barn!--and this draws protests from the banker for the estate (Duffy's lover Ben) and from Charles Wyndham himself, who's now hooked by both the super-jewels and by Duffy's insouciant sexiness. The upshot? A compromise: a barn auction under Wyndham's supervision, with a split commission. So, while the plans for the upcoming super-auction are sketched in, with Duffy fighting against Wyndham's refinement all the way, we're also given glimpses of the prospective buyers: a secretly homosexual Kremlin Museum official; the dealer representing Elizabeth II; the dealer who, on orders from Moscow, organizes a dealers' ""ring"" for keeping the price down (the USSR plans to buy all the masterpieces and dismantle them!); Russian Orthodox clergy; and assorted buyers with purely commercial motives. Meanwhile, too, mini-flashbacks fill in the hidden treasure's 1917 provenance--as banker-lover Ben (jealous of the growing Duffy/Wyndham passion) scurries around trying to find an heir to Miss Natalie's estate, someone who can stop the auction. And finally comes Auction Night, a-buzz with reversals, revelations, and podium mishaps. . . until Dully, a disaster as a Wyndham's-style auctioneer, turns the black-tie audience on by reverting to the down-home manner: ""All right, I have a million one. Where's the two?"" True, the Lyons' rather sophomoric smuttiness occasionally dampens the proceedings. Otherwise, however, this is fast, inventive, saucily detailed fun: a Country Mouse/City Mouse frolic with tender moments (Duffy and her loving-but-resentful brothers) and heaps of cinematic potential.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1982
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan