O SACRED HEAD by Nicholas Kilmer


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A never-ending snowstorm socks in Boston, upending plans high and low. It leaves the roads deserted and virtually impassible, absolves librarian Molly Riley's kids from school, and (so she says) strands fly-by-night art dealer Lavinia Randall Whitman in town for long enough to offer collector Clayton Reed a sniff at a mind-boggling collection of 90 paintings (with signatures like VelÊzquez, Rembrandt, and Lucas Cranach) that can be purchased only as a group for the bargain price of $45 million. But the bad weather doesn't slow down whoever crucified the decapitated corpse at 1001 Memorial Drive and decorated the crime scene with a painting of the suffering Christ--a painting that the Cambridge cops want Clayton's legman and Molly's lover, Fred Taylor (Man With a Squirrel, 1996, etc.), to identify and price. The baroque, horrendous murder seems to have nothing to do with what Fred is convinced is the scare being run on his boss--until an even more marginal dealer offering Clayton a separate deal on a Rembrandt that's obviously part of La Randall's mysterious collection turns up in a Boston hotel as dead as Rembrandt--and as hideously tortured as the John Doe across the river. The first half of the story, which sets up the leading players and shows their opening moves, is confident, amusing, and just tense enough--altogether the best thing Kilmer has done so far. But be warned: the preposterous solution will leave you gasping, and not in a good way.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1890208485
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt