9781616203160_p0_v2_s260x420Reviewed by Jax Kepple

Beware of the sexy, charismatic gallery owner! Claire Roth, clawing her way back into the lowest rungs of the art world after a humiliating incident with her former artist boyfriend and the MoMa, gets an enticing offer from Aiden Markel that she cannot refuse. Only when she learns exactly what is needed of her does she question her talent, her ambitions and her place in the ever-fickle Boston creatives.

Years ago, Claire Roth took credit for a painting submitted by her then-boyfriend Isaac. When her talents were rejected as authentic, she hit rock bottom, living in her artists studio on a mattress on the floor and painting copies of famous paintings for Reproductions.com. As part of the agreement for her to work at that site, she agrees to an interview that praises her for being an expert copyist for paintings by Edgar Degas. This article piques the interest of Aiden Markel, her previous boyfriend’s art dealer who comes to her with an offer that plunges her into the high brow art world.

In 1990, a theft at the Isalbella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston resulted in several famous pieces of artwork worth hundreds of millions disappearing into thin air. In The Art Forger, one of these painting is the fictional Edgar Degas After the Bath that suddenly reappears out of nowhere when Markel asks Claire to paint a forgery of it for an international buyer.

The Art Forger was an engaging, interesting read that made the technical aspects of painting and forging painting easy to follow for non-artists. Author B.A. Shapiro expertly moves the story along, while intertwining letters from the gallery owner to her niece and retelling exactly what happened three years earlier with Isaac. Claire is a very likable main character, with just enough faults to make her believable. The ending, with one final twist, was great and kept me guessing until the big reveal.

I did feel as though the Markel character was a bit too good to be true, but he made for the perfect antagonist for Claire, who was completely satisfied in her middle-of-the-road existence before he came along and made her push her boundaries. All in all, a very enjoyable read.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Algonquin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.