The prologue to Murder Masterpiece recounts the still-unsolved theft of several paintings from Boston’s Gardner Museum twenty-five years ago. This offers interest-piquing background to the crime driving the story, the theft of a Renoir from the Fine Arts Museum and the murder in situ of one of the thieves. The author concludes this opening segment by announcing that the two thefts are connected, robbing the tale of a potentially rich source of suspense and intrigue. The story is told mainly through conversations in Boston’s apparently numerous Irish bars and consists largely of exchanges between Frances, the story’s heroine, literary agent, and daughter of a crime boss, and an array of characters, most of whom have roots in Boston’s Irish underworld dating back to the time of the Gardner theft, a nice link. Frances grasps at hints and half-clues scattered amid the lies and evasions presented to her, but, apart from some snappy and humorous wordplay, the result is a rather slow unfolding of the tale with several unwarranted digressions. To illustrate, the mastermind behind the Renoir theft is revealed in chapter thirty-three, but the story meanders on for a further seven chapters. In sum, a moderately entertaining read, but no more.
Christopher Matthews Publishing