717af66cc996bdb2ad3c885c7459d6f2Reviewed by MaryLu McFall

The Da Vinci Deception, an introduction of Inspector Jack Oxby, was originally published years ago, and re-published in paperback in late 2012 to more success. The untimely title was overshadowed by Dan Brown’s novel. The two are only comparable in the Da Vinci connection.

In this caper an art fraud is carefully planned by an art and antiques dealer who is described sounding as close to Sydney Greenstreet as one can imagine. Jonas Kalum gathers a group of specialists picked for their unique talents: Curtis Stiehl, a counterfeiter being released from jail; Tony Waters, a con man with a long history; Eleanor Shephard, a specialist in the histories of ink and paper; and Giorgio Burri, an Italian DaVinci collector. Months of planning and preparation include speeches by Kalum hinting at a new original work of DaVinci’s about to be found.

Well-laid plans begin to unglue in London where Tony has been planted in the Library where the Royals have several originals which Curtis needs and Tony must borrow over a weekend. Unfortunately, a female Scotland Yard plant becomes suspicious and oddly enough goes with Tony to have a drink. You guessed it—Tony realizes the whole deal will all be for naught unless he takes care of her by setting her up to have an accident which she does not survive.

All the art history is written with aplomb, but a little research might prove some inaccuracies. So, a little willing suspension of disbelief or raised eyebrow suspicion is in order. When Oxby finally enters the story it is confusing since the cover states it is an Inspector Jack Oxby novel. The two publishing dates explain that—so it helps to be aware of that otherwise you will wonder where the devil Jack is keeping himself. Actually, Inspector Oxby has been after Jonas for months. He heard of some of Jonas’ lectures and wondered what he might be up to in predicting the “discovery” of a new item by the famous artist. There are a couple of twists that show Oxby’s genius in both deception and disguise and it made the whole thing fun to read. If you’re into art and DaVinci and gangs that are basically screw-ups, you ought to love this one. Swan has also written other novels with art and art history as the hook.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

MaryLu McFall is the author of A Little Karmic Murder, an eBook that is available on Kindle, Nook, and all other electronic readers. She lives, works part-time at an independent bookstore, and will soon have her Young Adult novel, The Family Lancaster, published as an eBook as well.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.