Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Do you like ghost stories? Do you like creepy ghost stories? I have to say I didn’t think I did, but this book (and maybe the others to follow in the series) changed my mind. The review, though, was kind of hard to write without giving significant spoilers, and although as you read you can guess what’s going to happen on the next page, I couldn’t predict the outcome from the beginning. You can read this book in one evening, so just sit back and enjoy….
Luke Morganstern is an art fraud investigator who had been at the top of his field until one big mistake, and he’s been struggling ever since. He can’t afford to turn down a job anyway, but when a mysterious client contacts him about a possible forgery, he can’t resist when he finds out the artist being imitated.
Jeremiah Arcoletti. He was a rising star of the American realism movement, until he disappeared without a trace, taking with him his last 13 paintings. Paintings that he meticulously described in letters to friends, but were never seen. Paintings that Luke has been able to picture in his mind after studying Arcoletti for so long. Paintings that were inexplicably starting to turn up in a remote gallery in Oregon.
Stefan Cobbe is an artist with a very promising start to his career, until a tragedy destroyed his paintings and left him with literally only the clothes on his back. Worse, he found he was completely unable to produce any art at all. Homeless and destitute, he was taken in by a man who provided him with room, board, art supplies, and a studio. And Stefan produced finished canvases, miraculously complete in hours – hours that Stefan had no memory of.
Luke and Stefan have a complicated history together, with guilt and blame on both sides that led to their separation years ago. Stefan is now the most likely suspect for the forgery, and Luke has to decide what exactly he is going to do about that, especially when Stefan claims innocence.
The pace of the story was constant and the tension just kept building and building, with a few surprise twists, and I couldn’t put the book down until I finished (fortunately it’s not too long!). Well written, great plot, outstanding characterization with significant growth of both MCs and excellent secondary characters, and throughout a perpetual sense of foreboding. There are definitely some dark places in this book, and seeing Luke and Stefan struggle to escape those places – some of which were in their own minds – was exciting, and a little scary.
Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series!
Cover art by L.C. Chase is fine, though I’m not quite sure which character the model is supposed to represent…