I don't normally read Jeffrey Archer, but I can never resist an Art History Mystery. So when I found False Impression on a sale table on Saturday, I grabbed it for 50 cents. Then I stayed up until 3am Sunday morning because I could not put it down. So this is the first Book in my Mystery Challenge.
The Blurb and the back cover asks questions like
Why was an elegant lady brutally murdered the night before 9/11?
Why was a successful New York banker not surprised to receive a woman's left ear in the morning mail?
Why did a top Manhattan lawyer work only for one client, but never charge a fee?
Why did a young woman with a bright career steal a priceless Van Gogh painting?
Why was an Olympic gymnast paid a million dollars an assigment when she didn't have a bank account?
Why was an honors graduate working as a temporary secretary after inheriting a fortune?
Why was an English Countess ready to kill the banker, the lawyer, and the gymnast even if it meant spending the rest of her life in jail?
Why was a Japanese steel magnate happy to hand over $50 million to a woman he had only met once?
Why was a senior FBI agent trying to work out the connection between these eight apparently innocent individuals?
Let me see if I can answer these questions.
The FBI agent has 3 unsolved murders - all with their throats slit and their art collections recovered by the New York banker to cover their debts. The elegant lady becomes the 4th victim.
The english countess and the elegant lady were related which is why she wants to kill the banker, the lawyer and the gymnast. Actually I dont recall that she even knew the lawyer's name.
The FBI agent thinks the brilliant young women with a promising career who stole the Van Gogh is the murderer, so he puts surveillance on her. He thinks she is in league with the banker. After all she is an Art History professional with a Ph.D. And she and the banker both come from the same East European country.
The honors graduate working as a temporary secretary - well she was the surprise twist. We dont discover her story and how she ties into all this until the very last chapter.
The Japanese magnate - like all art collectors - he's willing to pay $50 million for a "stolen painting", once he is told of the reason for the sale.
The Olympic Gymnast? She also comes from the same East European Country and she uses her gymnastics to escape from a locked room. No bank account means no way to be traced - supposedly.
And by the way, the painting was never stolen. The banker just wants what he claims is his property in order to recover his debt. The english countess says the banker is a swindler and refuses to give up without a fight. The art historian just does a bit of switch & bait to fool the banker and get justice for the countess after the elegant lady was murdered.
And I think I'll leave it at that. You got to read the book to find the answers. But it really is a riveting story. Like I said, I stayed up until 3am reading it.
One last thing - the elegant lady was murdered the day before 9/11. The banker, the lawyer and the art historian are all in New York and were in the North Tower when it was hit. The description of walking down over 90 levels of stairway is very nicely detailed and really makes you feel like you were there. Then the running to escape the dust & ash cloud when the first tower went down is also riveting.
I was sitting at my doctors office on the morning of 9/11 waiting for a diagnostic test. I watched the towers fall on the TV in his waiting room.