Nothing more chilling than the phrase “Until the Nazis came.” Evocative, haunting, instantly terrifying and filling a person’s mind with images and emotions.
That’s how Angus becomes involved in a labyrinthine case with its roots in WW2, Italy, and the confiscation of personal property, including artwork of European Jews by the Nazis.
It’s begins with Tom Laughlin, the retired lawyer who helped with the last case, inviting Angus to dine with his book club of older gay men who live in Ft. Lauderdale. One of the men, Frank Sena, needs Angus’ assistance.
Plakcy builds historical layers within his stories by elements such as the book club members and the topics under discussion among them. The need for discretion or complete secrecy, those among the group that married as “straight” men, the barriers the homosexual community has overcome and those obstacles that still exist. As well as those that got so many killed if they were not only openly homosexual but Jewish and living in Europe before the war.
That’s the group Frank’s uncle fell into. Italian, gay and Jewish. He owned a wonderful art collection that was stolen by the Nazis when he was taken into custody and sent to Auschwitz where he died.
Frank’s been contacted about one of the paintings and he wants to know if the seller is legit.
From this base of questioning, the story expands into a cornucopia of history and knowledge on a mass of topics. Through the mind and eyes of Angus, we learn about the influx of illegal imitation merchandise of high end brands and how and where they originate, ties to the illegal refugees, The Macchiaioli movement of Italian painters, and so much more. It’s a feast of information, lovingly gifted to the reader in bits and pieces, through scenes and nicely written conversations that bring all of this to life memorably.
I can remember every single detail, as it’s threaded through the mystery and , several murders, here, to wonderful impact.
Angus is still that straight forward, ambitious young agent. I don’t see much of a connection still with his boyfriend, Lester. No sparks or chemistry. There’s more with the older book group than with Lester. His brother Danny looks to figure more in his life and Danny is a lively presence in the story.
At times, Angus seems a bit too “stereotypical “ or less layered than some of the characters he meets. Maybe the next story resolves some of that.
Survival Is An Art (an Angus Green Book 3) by Neil S. Plakcy was a fantastic read. Full of mystery, historical references, and a whopping great time.
I’m looking forward to the next, and recommending this!
Angus Green series:
✓ The Next One Will Kill You #1
✓ Nobody Rides For Free #2
✓ Survival Is A Dying Art #3
◦ Brackish Water #4
Survival is a Dying Art: An Angus Green Novel
Special Agent Angus Green is still in his twenties, and his red hair and good looks often make people underestimate him, but he’s a smart, fearless cop who believes in the FBI motto: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. Fort Lauderdale retiree Frank Sena is working with pawn shop owner Jesse Venable to retrieve a painting stolen from Frank’s uncle, a gay Venetian killed during the Holocaust. Angus volunteers to help Frank, and discovers Venable is the subject of a task force looking into smuggling immigrants out of war-torn countries in the Middle East. Angus, who knows nothing about art and speaks no Italian, may be in over his head as he is assigned to befriend, and ultimately betray, Venable. But with the help of his Italian-speaking brother and his art-loving boyfriend, he may be able not only to retrieve the painting, but solve a smuggling case and potentially save thousands of lives. The investigation will take him from the sun-drenched rooftops of Venice to a private yacht speeding down Fort Lauderdale’s New River. Along the way, he’ll learn the true meaning of survival.