The Forgery of Venus, Michael Gruber, William Morrow, 2008, 318 pp
Sometimes you just want to read at a fast pace and not have to think too deeply. Especially if like me, you don't watch TV. Don't get me wrong. Michael Gruber can actually write. He falls into a category of thriller author who is a step or more above the David Baldaaci crowd, plus his subject matter tends toward the cultural: Shakespeare and rare books in The Book of Air and Shadows; painting in The Forgery of Venus.
Painter Chaz Wilmot is the tortured genius type. I always enjoy reading about a genius, either from real life or imagined. I was surprised to find an incident where the artist runs amok, slashing paintings in a museum. Elizabeth Kostova included such a scene in The Swan Thieves, though her book was published two years later. Apparently crimes against art are more prevalent than I realized.
In fact, the thriller aspect here involves several varieties of art crime and features a villain you almost like. In another twist concerning male genius, the artist is the victim instead of the wife. And I loved the fact that Chaz participates in program testing a new drug to enhance creativity, leading him to either channel a famous Spanish painter or go into past life regression. Delicious!
Great read. Michael Gruber is on my list any time he writes a new book. He might have a touch of genius himself.
(The Forgery of Venus is available in paperback and Google eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)