Innocently enough, an admirer gives Stevie Marriner, beloved “Sex Queen of the Soaps,” a Pandora’s box of Andy Warhol silkscreen prints. On opening it, Stevie and her ex-husband, columnist Neil Gulliver, are plunged headlong into their fifth perilous adventure. Colorful as the prints are, they have a dark history connected to the Nazis’ plunder of art treasures owned by Jews they subsequently murdered. Originally, the suite consisted of a dozen prints, but in Stevie’s possession there are only 11. The missing Warhol contains a telltale clue, and if Stevie and Neil can successfully track and crack it, they’ll catch the reclusive and villainous collector who has a stash of Manets, Monets, Pissarros, and Picassos that don’t belong to him. Needless to say, however, this super-rich exploiter of Holocaust suffering is so reluctant to have his identity revealed that he’s willing to turn the efficient and merciless killer Clegg loose against a variety of international pursuers, from Stevie and Neil to a brace of rival greedy collectors to the legendary Mossad. Efficient and merciless in its own right, the Jewish special operations agency not only wants priceless stolen art recovered, it wants something even more: vengeance.
Unfortunately, Stevie and Neil, who once quarreled wittily (The John Lennon Affair, 2001, etc.), now wrangle tiresomely. Maybe we know them too well; maybe this hot paint is just warmed over.