Dispatched by his boss, wealthy, imperious collector Clayton Reed, to an auction to benefit the new Runnymede House Museum, Fred Taylor succeeds in bringing home an obscure but priceless collection of erotic drawings by a Very Famous Painter without revealing enough of his interest to any rival collectors to drive up the bidding. But the nasty scrawls actually carry a much higher price. Bobby Rotwell, son of the life peer whose estate endowed the new museum, is doing everything he can to void the entire auction, from demanding his father’s exhumation to serving legal papers on all the buyers he can find. And an even more determined and unscrupulous collector is leaning hard on everyone who knows anything about the drawings Clayton has purchased. Meanwhile, there’s the vexing question of their provenance, which must be established to safeguard Clayton’s investment. And here Kilmer shines brilliantly, using a charmingly determined shop assistant named Lakshmi Thomas to uncover a fact-based scandal linking the Very Famous Painter to an Equally Famous Critic, and finally to a little-suspected member of the cast. A deft and compelling use of historical crimes that mirror the felonies in decorous present-day Massachusetts vaults Fred’s fourth adventure (O Sacred Head, 1997, etc.) up into the league of Iain Pears’s art-history whodunits.