Artist's Proof, by Lander Marks. Published April 2008 by Stephens Press.
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Artist's Proof is a busy whirlwind of a mystery novel about a Las Vegas car dealer and art afficianado named DJ Singer who sails aboard a luxury liner and travels to Italy to unravel a thickly-knotted mystery concerning forged paintings and murder. Along the way, she falls in love, winds up in the hospital and digs up secrets from the art world connecting her story to the Holocaust.
Marks uses the breezy, casual style of chick lit to tell this story, which alternates between DJ's perspective and that of Shannon Miller, an ambitious, hard-driving art dealer who knows Singer as a wealthy and easy-to-woo client. Both women speak in the first person, and Marks differentiates their voices through the use of different typefaces, which actually does not make it easier to tell the difference between them. I didn't even notice the use of this device until about halfway through this short book, and I am not sure visual cues are the best way to distinguish characters whose voices are otherwise indistinguishable.
Artist's Proof would likely appeal to many readers- fans of chick lit and light mysteries particularly- but it was not my cup of tea. I'm more of a literary-fiction kind of reader and I had a hard time struggling with Marks's style of writing and way of developing characters. There are two interviews in the Afterword- one with Dr. Jonathan Petropoulos, an academic with several Holocaust credentials and another with attorney Gideon Taylor of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which shed some light on the issue of restoration of property stolen by the Nazis. These interviews are interesting in and of themselves, but this theme only comes into the book near the end, and seems ill-suited for this kind of book- much too heavy and serious for such a light novel- that the whole effect was jarring and uncomfortable, like a too-tight suit. Anyway, an interesting book- just not my style.
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