Three friends descend upon an art auction in search of some excitement. Mike Mackenzie-retired software mogul, bachelor and fine art enthusiast-wants something that money can't buy. Fellow art-lover Allan Cruickshank is bored with his banking career and burdened by a painful divorce. And Robert Gissing, an art professor, is frustrated that so many paintings stay hidden in corporate boardrooms, safes and private apartments. After the auction-and a chance encounter with crime boss Chib Calloway-Robert and Allan suggest the "liberation" of several paintings from the National Gallery, hoping Mike will dissuade them. Instead, he hopes they are serious.
As enterprising girlfriends, clever detectives, seductive auctioneers and a Hell's Angel named Hate enter the picture, Ian Rankin creates a highly-charged thriller, a fast-pasted story of second guesses and double crosses that keep changing the picture, right until the harrowing finish.
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Ian Rankin is a #1 international bestselling author. Winner of an Edgar Award and the recipient of a Gold Dagger for fiction and the Chandler-Fulbright Award, he lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.From Booklist:
Mike Mackenzie is “thirty-seven years old, rich and bored.” Having sold his software company, he hasn’t found a replacement for the thrill of high-stakes entrepreneurship; only collecting art satisfies his soul. Then barroom banter with friends—Why should great paintings languish in warehouses when they could belong to people who properly appreciate them?—suggests another pastime. Talk turns serious, and soon the unlikely thieves are ready to execute their plan, swapping originals for fakes on “Doors Open Day,” when nonpublic institutions offer tours. Mackenzie feels alive again, but as the number of conspirators grows to include professional criminals, the rank amateurs’ perfect crime begins to unravel. Fans of Rankin’s excellent, just-ended John Rebus series will likely be disappointed by this offering. While Rankin builds some suspense with a dogged DI named Ransome and a Hell’s Angel named Hate—the tension remains perfectly bearable. Mackenzie seems unfazed by the threat of jail time, characters are glib when they ought to be scared, and the tepid ending takes a page, if you will, right out of Scooby-Doo: in danger, Mackenzie buys time by explaining the plot, while the villains assist him by bloviating about how painful everyone’s death will be when eventually inflicted. Finally, in a novel where art forgery plays a starring role, the details of the forgery are too sketchy. We can’t help but wonder if Rankin is like his character here: having retired Rebus, he’s still looking for a new thrill to equal the old one. --Keir Graff
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