Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Frame Work: Review

Frame Work (2011) by Anne G. Faigen: Professor Sarah Brandau had her trip to Prague all planned. She invited her stylish, vivacious grandmother, Edith, along for the ride and once her duties as a session leader at her literary conference were taken care of she expected to spend the rest of her time seeing the sights in the historic city, shopping in the local stores, and sampling the cuisine of nearby restaurants. They manage a little bit of each of these--stopping by an antique store and purchasing a miniature landscape in an ornate frame for one of the "aunts" back home in New York. 

When they get back to the hotel with their purchase, Sarah notices that the print has shifted and a bit of white paper is behind the print. The women are astonished to find a sketch that has a familiar look about it. Further investigation reveals that they may have an early work by Mary Cassat, a famous Impressionist artist. They consult a couple of new friends--a fellow conference attendee with a knowledge of art and an older local man who volunteers at a nearby museum...and who has taken a special interest in Edith. 

But before they can decide precisely what they should do, the clerk from the antique shop calls them in a bit of a panic. It seems that the particular painting they bought was NOT supposed to be for sale and the owners of the shop are quite upset with him. He begs them to return the painting in exchange for something else or for a refund. When they go back to the shop as arranged (though they plan on telling him that they bought the painting good faith and will not be returning it), they discover the police in possession of the establishment and the clerk has disappeared. It isn't long before his body is fished out of the river. What exactly have the women gotten themselves into? 

Before long, they find themselves embroiled in a mystery involving an art-smuggling network that is actually a cover for a family descended from a Nazi "hero." These ruthless men were not only responsible for deaths in the Holocaust, but they were part of the Nazi scheme to "liberate" valuable art from lesser mortals. These ruthless men will stop at nothing to retrieve what they believe is rightfully theirs and to prevent Sarah and Edith from leading the police to their network. 

This was a very fast-paced read--especially when I was expecting a cozy academic mystery. But it has excellent pacing and an interesting plot, though it did take a bit of belief suspension to picture the academic from small college USA taking on Nazi-descendants/sympathizers. Sarah also had a bit of the Gothic mystery heroine thing going on and when she went out of the hotel with X after specifically being told NOT to leave the hotel for any reason I wanted to throttle her. Anyone with mystery-reading experience just knew what was going to happen next.

I enjoyed the historic tidbits about Prague and learning even more about the Nazi efforts to snatch up priceless artwork from those they conquered. The personal story of Joseph Meyer, the museum guide, was very compelling as he told about the persecution of the Jews and his involvement in trying to rescue artwork that had been stolen by the Nazis. Overall, an interesting novel--with more emphasis on the historic background and an action/thriller atmosphere than a straight mystery, but still very enjoyable. ★★ and 1/4.

[Finished on 6/26/17]


Ryan said...

I'm so backlogged on my mystery books, but this one sounds interesting.

Bev Hankins said...

Ryan: It was a nice escape.