The young woman in the hair salon raises her shirt to show a friend a work in progress—a riot of stunning tattoos. From the barber’s chair, Fred Taylor knows that those images—weird insects, beasts, and naked human figures—could only come from something amazing: a hitherto unknown painting of rare and significant value. And the girls don’t have a clue.
Fred knows such a painting needs to be found. His inquiries lead him from the salon to the illegal tattoo parlor of an unlicensed genius. Everyone who must have seen the painting denies that it exists, despite the vivid proof increasingly laid bare on the canvas of the hairdresser’s skin.
Fred’s employer, the collector Clayton Reed, is out of the country. So Fred, left to his own devices, is free to follow the trail, despite the distractions presented by the intriguing librarian Molly Riley.
Fred must proceed with caution. Then he encounters the first serious bump in the road: a suspiciously convenient hit-and-run that brings one potential informant to an abrupt dead end.
It’s been a while since I read a good who-dun-it, so I was prime for this one that I picked up on NetGalley. Fred Taylor kind of stumbles into this mystery by being in the right place (getting a haircut) at the right time. Overhearing where the hairdresser got her ink, he pays the tattoo artist a visit. But the artist who “draws like an angel” is very close lipped about the inspiration for the piece he has inked on Kim’s back.
Fred continues to follow clues, determined to find this priceless old painting by Hieronymous Bosch, the possible draft for the tryptic The Garden of Earthly Delights.
The mystery, I liked. It had a surprising twist at the end that I did not suspect. The conversations between the characters, I did not. They were choppy, confusing and hard to follow. Occasionally I can see having a character that talks in bits and pieces and seems to lose their train of thought jumping from one thing to another. But to have almost every character speak like this in the book was just a little too much for me. I found myself rereading sentences to try to figure out where the conversation went. If you are better at following this kind of dialogue than I am, by all means, read this book. The search for the painting is intriguing and I learned a lot about the art world. 3/5 stars
**This book releases today**