cover image The Icon Thief

The Icon Thief

Alec Nevala-Lee. Signet, $9.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-0-451-23620-3

Nevala-Lee’s cerebral, exciting debut proves there’s plenty of life left in the Da Vinci Code–style thriller as long as fresh venues and original characters enhance the familiar plot elements and genre tropes. When a small painting of a headless woman by surrealist painter Marcel Duchamp comes up for auction at Sotheby’s in New York, Maddy Blume, who works for an art investment company called the Reynard Art Fund, bids on the painting, but she loses out at $11 million to a bidder representing a Russian oligarch. A number of disparate elements—the Rosicrucians, composer Eric Satie, the Black Dahlia murder, occultist Aleister Crowley, chess, the Soviet secret service, Lenin, and several obscure secret societies—involve a conspiracy that Maddy and Englishman Alan Powell of the Serious Organized Crime Agency must unravel as they investigate a series of mysterious killings. Nevala-Lee leaves a few loose ends to be resolved in what is sure to be the eagerly awaited sequel. Agent: David Halpern, the Robbins Office. (Mar.)