September 16th, 2013

A Purple Straw Hat

_The Art Forger_, B.A. Shapiro

This month's book group selection, however, M. had to attend a meeting so we only spoke briefly, and A. was headed to the same meeting but a bit later, so we got to speak a little bit longer -- and no one else showed up! Ah well.

Also, no one liked the book but me. But I loved it! Claire Roth is delightfully, and relentlessly, dishonest with herself and everyone she is involved with. She seems to live to helpfully lead people down the garden path and then expose their gullibility. She also has drive, ambition, the ability to produce a lot of high quality work quickly -- and a disconcerting unwillingness to just stay on the straight and narrow.

But you know, it's tough being an artist, and your career is only partially under your control, so I have some sympathy for her. Not so for most of her dupes. Professors shouldn't sleep with their students, so when Isaac lets Claire talk him into submitting her work as his, he really only gets what he deserves and I didn't find it particularly surprising at all that he not only killed himself, but the people around him blamed Claire for it. And the museum that would ultimately be embarrassed into admitting they had accepted as Isaac's work a painting of Claire's. Ha!

But the interaction between Markel and Claire is even better. The zinger(s) at the end of the book is (are) priceless and for all of its (their) shock, probably not really a surprise to any of the participants or even, after you think about it, you as the reader.

I'm not a big mystery fun, especially murders, so I was a little surprised to get such a kick out of this one; I'll be looking for more by Shapiro.