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Synopsis

It is a headline-making story: the discovery of a previously unknown Rembrandt. René Vachey, the iconoclastic art dealer who claims to have uncovered it, wants to make a gift of it to the Seattle Art Museum, but curator Chris Norgren is wary. Vachey is notorious in art circles for perpetrating scandalous shams; not for profit but for the sheer fun of embarrassing the elite and snobbish “experts” of the art establishment. And thanks to the web of strings attached to Vachey’s donation (e.g., no scientific testing permitted), even Rembrandt expert Chris is uncertain as to whether or not the painting is authentic.

His doubts multiply when he goes to Dijon to examine it and finds himself in the middle of a host of controversies of which Vachey is the devilish focus. But there is no doubt that the bullet soon found in Vachey’s head is authentic. And there is no telling how much time Chris has to find the truth about the “masterpiece”—and the murder—before he finds himself painted into a corner by a shrewd and villainous murderer.

1993 Nero Award, given by the Nero Wolfe Society/the Wolfe Pack for literary excellence in the mystery genre.

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