I am a new Alix London Mystery fan.
I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries since I started this review blog, and the Elkins’ “Alix London” mystery, The Art Whisperer, is one of my favorites.
First, we have a strong female lead who isn’t an ancient, Miss Marple-type, but a modern woman who isn’t even necessarily a detective — at least not in the traditional fashion. She is an expert on art restoration and art forgery (which certainly takes a bit of detection). At the moment she is working for amuseum in Palm Springs where she suspects their valuable Jackson Pollock painting is a forgery. The very idea of this made me chuckle … how does one authenticate a Jackson Pollock when it essentially looks like he simply splattered paint on a canvas. Couldn’t ANYone do that? But of course there’s my naiveté showing. When it comes to art, there are often multiple ways of authenticating a work.
During this same time, Alix is the target of a smear campaign by an anonymous blogger who questions her credentials and talent. Could the two be related, or does the blogger have it ‘in’ for her based on past actions? When she is physically attacked at her hotel, Alix knows there’s more going on. A little help from a FBI agent (who has more than professional interest in Alix) will ultimately help Alix solve the puzzles.
Beyond this intelligent, independent, modern woman is a subject for mysteries that is perfect for today. I’ve noticed, and written about the fact that high-profile art crimes seems to be on the rise, which has piqued my interest, so a mystery series with art as the focal object is definitely something I want to read.
There is at least one moment (in the speeding car) in which Alix displays a talent that seems all too convenient for the moment and somewhat unlikely. It’s that sort of moment that often gives me a distaste for mysteries as our heroes suddenly have an almost super-human power that was never before revealed (just tell me they’re super-human and I’ll buy in to the story a lot quicker). But because the rest of Alix’s character, and the setting she’s in, works so well, I’m almost ready to forgive this moment.
This is a great vacation read. Sitting on a beach or the porch of a cabin, or wherever you like to go to get away for a bit, this is the sort of book you can bring with you, get lost in for a day or two, and enjoy.
I look forward to reading the first two Alix London books, as well as whatever comes along next from the Elkins’.
Looking for a good book? The Art Whisperer is a smart mystery with a modern heroine working in the professional art world — it is highly recommended!
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The Art Whisperer
authors: Charlotte and Aaron Elkins
series: Alix London #3
publisher: Thomas and Mercer
paperback, 260 pages