Dr. Chris Norgren is a curator at the San Francisco County Museum of Art. He is currently working out an uneasy divorce settlement with his wife — she has left him after a decade of marriage — but he still has the house and the dog. And his job.
He is not happy. Well, actually he is more befuddled than anything and not sure where exactly his life is headed. So, when the museum's director asks him to fly to Berlin to assist with the opening of an exhibit of 20 paintings from the private collection of a wealthy Italian, he is only too eager to leave the country and the frequent and frustrating conversations with his attorney.
Upon arriving in Berlin, he meets with the debonair Peter van Cortlandt who is in charge of the exhibit. Peter and Chris have lunch before Peter heads off for Frankfurt on museum business. Next thing we know, Peter has been murdered and Chris has been assaulted.
In addition to trying to determine why Peter was killed and who was responsible, Chris also must determine the motive behind the attack on himself. To muddle things even further, one of the paintings may be a forgery. But which one?
The investigation sends Chris off on a whirlwind of European travel and he ends up following the trail from Berlin to Florence to Munich to London.
Oh, and there is a bit of romance as well.
I liked this mystery. The writing is quite lighthearted and witty. There was much chatter about Renaissance artists' brushstrokes, paint ingredients, and signatures. There were discussions about art fakes and forgeries which got a little confusing, but I held strong.
I liked the characters and am disappointed that there are only two more in the Chris Norgren series: A Glancing Light and Old Scores. I look forward to reading both of them.
Author Aaron Elkins has another series that features forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver. There are eighteen books in that collection.
If you have a hankering for an easy read and a marvelous puzzle — not to mention a bit of art history and foreign travel — I don't think you will go wrong with A Deceptive Clarity.