Annie Kincaid is the creation of two sisters: Julie Goodson-Lawes, an artist, and Carolyn J. Lawes, a historian, who write under the pen name Hailey Lind. Annie Kincade is smart, funny, down-to-earth, and doing her best to make a living as a legitimate artist. An art prodigy, Annie had become, under her grandfather’s tutelage, a teenage art forger. After winding up in jail in a Paris, she rejected her former life of crime and decided to go straight. Moving to San Francisco, she opened a small studio where she works as a faux finisher, creating faux wall and furniture finishes for wealthy clients, and paints an occasional commissioned portrait.
In Feint of Art, a cozy art caper nominated for an Agatha Award and the first book in the series, Annie’s life is turned upside down when a former boyfriend asks her to authenticate the new Caravaggio at the Brock Museum. The painting is a forgery Annie recognizes as the handiwork of Anton, a friend and former associate of her grandfather’s. Within an hour of her identification, the guard who let her out of the museum is murdered and her former boyfriend disappears. Then her new landlord doubles the rent on her studio, and a local art dealer disappears with priceless drawings by Old Masters, leaving behind more forgeries by Anton.
Faced with losing her studio if she doesn’t come up with the rent, Annie accepts a large commission from the art dealer to find the missing drawings and sets out to find Anton and her ex-boyfriend. But neither is anywhere to be found. Her problems multiply when she encounters a man claiming to be a private detective searching for the same drawings and they discover a second victim.
Filled with quirky characters and ruthless art collectors, Feint of Art is a madcap romp through San Francisco’s art district in the mid-1990s. Laugh-out-loud funny with snappy dialog, it is delightful read. I will definitely be adding the next entries in the Annie Kincaid mystery series to my TBR pile.