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Book Cover Image: The Art Forger by B. A. ShapiroTitle: The Art Forger
Author: B. A. Shapiro
ISBN: 9781616201326
No. of Pages: 360
Genre: Suspense
Origins: Algonquin Books

Bottom Line: A brilliant piece of fiction
“On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.
Claire makes her living reproducing famous works of art for a popular online retailer. Desperate to improve her situation, she lets herself be lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting — one of the Degas masterpieces stolen from the Gardner Museum — in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when the long-missing Degas painting — the one that had been hanging for one hundred years at the Gardner — is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.
Claire’s search for the truth about the painting’s origins leads her into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.”
Thoughts: B. A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger takes readers on a whirlwind adventure through the world of art collection, family secrets, and the high stakes that comes with each. Claire Roth is a master art forger, paid to reproduce famous works of art to be sold to collectors who cannot afford the real deals. Not her dream job, when she is offered the chance to do one last forgery in exchange for the opportunity to showcase her original artwork at a prestigious gallery, she throws aside her objections and approaches the project with cautious abandon. She quickly rues her decision as the stakes move beyond her professional career and become truly life-and-death. What follows is as detailed and hypnotic as any Old Master painting.
Unlike other novels about artists or the art world read, The Art Forger is one of the first novels where the art world makes sense. The act of painting becomes more than blending a few colors on a canvas and shows itself to be a sophisticated labor of love, time, knowledge, and dedication. The art world itself, as portrayed in the novel, is more than the ritzy, black-tie gala unveilings or quirky art shows that one stereotypically envisions. It too becomes a world of passion, money, and fame as dealers gamble to find the next great artist and collectors rush to show off prized pieces. The stakes are high, higher than most people realize, and Ms. Shapiro skillfully captures it all.

Claire Roth is a fiercely independent and yet damaged character, someone with whom readers will fall in love given her vulnerability and resolute pride. Her past harbors shadows, and the discovery of them is as enjoyable as the main mystery. More importantly, Claire has heart. She is not just an embittered starving artist. She can laugh at herself for being a living cliché while worrying about making a difference in the lives of others. Her passion, her determination, and ultimately her flaws make her a character worth following.

Much in the same way an artist layers oil-based paints to achieve depth and a kaleidoscope of color, Ms. Shapiro uses multiple layers to create an intricate and breathtaking novel. Claire is wonderfully complex and one of the more realistic characters to grace the written page. The story itself is beautifully written and contains plenty of plot twists to interest even the most hesitant of readers. With its basis in true story crime, The Art Forger captures a reader’s imagination from the very first page and continues to thrill and delight.

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