THE DEADLIEST ART

Norman Bogner, Author
Norman Bogner, Author . Forge $25.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-312-86856-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 402 pages - 978-0-8125-7583-5
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A chill descends on idyllic Provence when the acid-disfigured nude body of a 13-year-old American junior golf pro washes up on a pristine French beach under the jurisdiction of Michel Danton, commander of the special circumstances section of the Police Judiciare. The murder and subsequent kidnappings of other young girls puts a damper on Michel's imminent wedding to American art professor Jennifer Bowen, who shot two serial killers to save Michel's life in Bogner's well-received last outing, To Die in Provence. After establishing these facts in a brisk opening, Bogner backtracks to follow the villains through the crime, recounting in alternate chapters the police investigation and the entanglements of Provence locals. The flashback begins in Venice Beach, Calif., where insane tattoo artist Garrett Brant and his lover, Eve, run a tattoo/piercing parlor funded by billionaire heiress and s&m nymphomaniac Heather Malone. Invited to Belgium by a repulsive (but wealthy) "friend" of Heather's, Garrett decides he can only "paint" on the skin of young girls. His first (botched) attempt ends in murder, and that activity escalates. Bogner's crisply intercut plot contains good atmospheric detail, and Michel's gourmet chef parents' preparations for the wedding feast, along with the interference of Jennifer's addled mother, add humor. Strong characters overcome a serviceable plot culminating in a stateside climax with a nicely kept surprise. American and French sensibilities are cleverly contrasted and even minor characters are interesting. This is a great beach read for those in search of entertainment and titillation. Major ad/promo. (July)

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