Mystery Review: A Dangerous Talent
Title: A Dangerous Talent
Author: Charlotte and Aaron Elkins
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer, 2012. 270 pages
Source: I purchased this book.
Alix London has a promising career as an art consultant, a sumptuous condo in Seattle’s toniest neighborhood, a gorgeous figure, and a presence that exudes Ivy League breeding and old money. She has it all…or does she? Only Alix knows that the image she presents to the world is a carefully constructed mirage that veils an embarrassing truth. A brilliant, once-promising art student, the daughter of a prominent New York art conservator, her world was left in ruins when her father went to prison for art forgery. Now a Harvard dropout with an emptied bank account, she is languishing in a career that has produced little more than a lucky house-sitting gig. But all of that changes when Alix meets Christine Lemay, a novice art collector with money to burn and a hot tip on a recently discovered painting by American master Georgia O’Keeffe. Chris hires Alix to perform the authentication, an assignment that finally could launch Alix into the big leagues. But soon after her arrival in Santa Fe, she finds herself tangled up in a web of forgery, deceit—and murder. Anxious to avoid becoming the next victim, she teams up with FBI Special Agent Ted Ellesworth—and gets a little unlikely help from her roguish father—to uncover the truth behind the painting and those who would kill to have it. Sharp, witty, and devilishly fun, A Dangerous Talent offers an insider’s look into the surprisingly treacherous contemporary art world.
I have long been a fan of Aaron Elkins' Gideon Oliver mysteries, as well as the Lee Ofsted mysteries he has written with his wife, Charlotte. So I was pretty excited to find that they had more books they have collaborated on. The pair have come up with an interesting premise, as usual, and as usual have executed it with highly readable and often witty prose. I enjoyed the characters, and the New Mexico setting was a lot of fun, as I am familiar at least a little bit with some of the places mentioned.
I did notice a couple of things that bothered me a little. One was that friendship between Alix and Christine feel very similar to that of Lee Ofsted and her friend Peg--nothing wrong with that, but it was a little disconcerting, especially as both Alix and Lee are a bit uncertain about their careers, and are befriended by somewhat brash older women who push them to accomplish what they might not on their own. It's a nice form of mentorship, but I thought the Elkins were recycling a bit.
The other disappointment was that I figured out the mystery before the end. That's not so bad--I didn't have all the details, and it wasn't much before the end, but Alix definitely missed one big red flag.
In the end, neither of those issues stopped me from enjoying the book very much, and I will be reading any more they write in the series (or any other series, for that matter).
Fans of Aaron and Charlotte Elkins will definitely want to check this out, as will anyone who is interested in art or Georgia O'Keeffe. You won't find it hard to read, and you won't regret it.
FTC Disclosure: I purchased an ebook of A Dangerous Talent at retail, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."