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A suspenseful tale of Borgesian circularity, Shadowing Botticelli's Beauty features an unusual cast drawn from three distinct spheres: C.I.A. operatives running sensitive operations during the Cold War; players from the art world among them a painter-architect based in Buenos Aires, and from ages past, the Renaissance master, Sandro Botticelli; and colorful inhabitants of an elite, New England prep school. But throughout this sinuous tale of intrigue, there is the constancy of "Abel Baaker Charlie:" devoted husband; journeyman case officer; apprentice school master; autodidactic painter; and, last but not least, self-appointed art detective. While weathering the chaos of revolutions, personal tragedies, identity crises, a treacherous colleague, and radical career shifts, the novel's dauntless protagonist tenaciously stalks a lost masterpiece looted by a Nazi war criminal in the closing days of World War II. Baaker's story, which has a basis in fact, is told with the assuredness of a veteran insider privy to the clandestine realm of spies, the arcane province of art historians, and the twisted turf of private boarding schools. While making for a fine read, with its rewarding resolution, Shadowing Botticelli's Beauty ponders the opposing roles of chance and grand design in the destiny of its memorable characters.

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