Nicholson, a former specialist in Russian art at Christies, tries his hand at fiction but doesn’t stray too far from his area of expertise.
A rare figurine is about to come up for auction at Leighton’s, a swanky auction house on the Upper East Side. Russian art expert Sasha Ozerovsky recognizes it as Snegurochka, a snow maiden in a Russian fairytale, crafted by the house of Fabergé. At the tender age of seven, Sasha not only saw the figurine (in London) but correctly identified the stone (eosite) from which its wee sandals were made. Clever Sasha! His mama, the Princess Nina Ozerovsky, was so happy and proud! Who knew that fate would bring Snegurochka to him once more? But the wee sandals are not the same. The Russian émigré community of New York (ancient Manhattanites, not Brighton Beach arrivistes) is agog. Is a master forger in Russia turning out flawless fake Fabergés for modern mobster Muscovites? Should Sasha sell his soul and establish a provenance for Snegurochka? He’d better think about it over some coffee and a piece of Danish like no other: an enameled Fabergé egg made for the royal family of Denmark. But is the egg ersatz? Did Dikarinsky, man of mystery, filch Fabergé designs from Stalin’s secret stash? And whatever happened to the Ozerovsky family’s breathtaking big blue diamond?
Earnest exposition, didactic dialogue, preposterous plot: a dull debut.