Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PORTRAIT OF MALICE by Sanjay Sanghoee

Ethan Wolf is a corrupt insurance investigator.  If a claim looks suspicious, he'll find someone who'll pay handsomely to make sure Ethan's company accepts the claim.  Prior to this job, Ethan was a narcotics detective in a department where all the cops were dirty.  His problem is that he has gambling debts with a guy who won't think twice about doing bodily harm.  An even bigger problem is that Ethan's wife is on life support, and he can't bear to let her go.  The huge medical bills are compromising his judgment and costing him his integrity.  Now he's been assigned to investigate a French art heist.  His boss must be under some pressure to get this claim paid, given Ethan's track record.  Ethan sees an opportunity for a big payoff but quickly finds that there's more than just the stolen property issue here.  The thieves killed 2 guards and the curator, who may have had information that made him a target.  Plus, the paintings may have originally belonged to Jews whose property was confiscated by the Nazis. Thwarted by uncooperative French police, Ethan seeks the help of a mysterious woman named Angelique, who meets an unfortunate demise, as does Ethan's boss, with Ethan being tagged as the latter's murderer.  The plot is a little convoluted but fast-paced, and the author dangles just enough carrots to keep the reader following along.  I've read a few thrillers this year, and this is one of the better ones, with several characters turning out not to be who we (and Ethan) think they are.

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