Tuesday, February 5

Review: Arsenic and Old Paint by Hailey Lind

This is the forth book in the Art Lover's Mystery series by Hailey Lind.  In this installment, we meet Annie Kincaid as she is working at an exclusive all men's club on Nob Hill called the Fleming-Union.  The club so exclusive, no women are allowed in except by special invitation, and even then they must use the rear service entrance.  Even the membership list is a very closely guarded secret.  But Annie was specially requested to do a repair job on some old wallpaper in the attic while most of the club members of off on a special retreat. Unfortunately Annie stumbles across a dead body, made up to look like a painting, called the Death of Marat.  Strangely enough this same day, Annie's new business venture with former art thief Michael X. Johnson, is asked to look into 2 stolen pieces of art.  The first by a New Zealand investigator about a painting that was reported stolen several years ago, and whose forgery has recently turned up on a local auction house.  And the second, a bronze sculptor, by her landlord and security expert Frank DeBenton.  

Annie begins the investigation into these art thefts and is bumbling along until her honorary Uncle Anton is found nearly dead from Arsenic gas poisoning.  This sets Annie off and as she fights to uncover the mystery, things heat up.  Annie is attacked once again in this book, and it looks like we just might get the love triangle between her, Michael and Frank resolved.  The mystery remained tight and kept me guessing right up to the very end.  I never figured out the bad guy until the very end. 

This book was very good.  I like the growth I see in Annie and how she is forging (no pun intended) her own path, trying to use her art forging connections and knowledge for the right side of the law.  Annie's grandfather is very much still a large part of this book, as each chapter begins with a post from his new blog "Craquelure".  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, because the ending simply rocked and I am salivating waiting for the next book.


Former art forger Annie Kincaid has been operating a legitimate decorative painting business for quite a while, but memories are long in the art world. Now, with the blessing of the FBI Art Squad, Annie's using her underworld connections to boost her new art investigation business, where she's partnered with none other than ex-art thief/ love interest Michael X. Johnson. At first it's strictly business, but when she stumbles across a body in an exclusive Nob Hill men's club, and an  insurance adjuster asks her to find a stolen (and forged) erotic painting, and then her Uncle Anton is attacked, Annie's on the trail of more than just art. This time, she's looking for justice. Annie is a strong woman protagonist. She has reinvented herself from a checkered past as an art forger to a legitimate businesswoman/artist. She moves easily between high and low social circles. as she makes the rounds of San Francisco and Bay Area locales, including tunnels beneath the pavements of Nob Hill and Chinatown; the homes and hideouts-even a downtown sex club-of the rich and famous; and the artists' studios South of Market. The Art Lover's series has an entertaining light touch, especially when either of Annie Kincaid's two romantic interests appear. But Arsenic and Old Paint also deals with serious social issues- some history of slave trading in Chinatown, and its connection with San Francisco powers-that-were; and the male exploitation of the female and immigrant powerless, an issue that continues to this day.

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