Harmony in Flesh and Black

Nicholas Kilmer, Author
Nicholas Kilmer, Author Henry Holt & Company $21 (261p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3663-3
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
First-novelist Kilmer launches a promising series with this darkly humorous story about a couple of art deals turned sour in Boston. Fred Taylor, whose job skills were picked up on clandestine operations in Southeast Asia, now assists a Boston art collector. By the time Kilmer is through acquainting readers with the cutthroat side of collecting (where acquiring a painting can literally be murder), Fred's career path makes sense. First Fred's boss, aesthete Clayton Reed, wants to pick up a mediocre landscape that may be a priceless painted-over Vermeer. Reed also picks up an unsigned nude, which may possibly be the work of a major painter, from a pornographer who is soon found murdered. The suspense builds after a slow start as the art-history sleuthing-which makes murder seem mundane-gains momentum. Kilmer's prose can be self-consciously highfalutin, but his characters are lively, the context makes for a stimulating change of pace and the plot is inventive in this excellent first effort. (Apr.)
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