Putnam, Apr 2008, $24.95
Ethan Muller owns a successful art gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, but recently his enthusiasm for his endeavor has diminished. Although he and his father no longer talk to one another, they communicate through Tony, his dad’s second in command. Tony calls Ethan to tell him that in a Queens’ slum apartment are boxes and books of ink and felt-tip drawings by a vanished genius.
Ethan goes to the wilderness where he concludes the work is brilliant as individual drawings, but the genius is that they fit together like puzzle pieces into a large piece. He takes a section and displays it at his gallery where a patron buys up the entirety of what he displays. The artist Victor Cracke vanished and none of his neighbors knew this reclusive loner or where he went. A retired cop recognizes the faces of murdered children in the exhibit he and his assistant DA daughter Susan have an interest in the Muller gallery as they want to find the artist of these portraits to perhaps crack open a forty year of cold case murder.
This is an excellent psychological suspense cozy that will haunt the audience due to the superb characterizations especially with Ethan, Susan, and the title character Cracke who makes a cameo appearance. Ethan is the reason the strong story line works as his everyman flawed personality especially a touch of larceny brings plausibility to the plot that otherwise would feel over the top albeit groovy of the 59th Street-Queensborogh Bridge. With plenty of twists and shockers, fans will wonder along with the now besieged Ethan just who is Victor and where he is.