Sunday, January 23, 2022

A Stranger’s Revenge, by K. J. McGillick

K.J.McGillick,January 2022

Abigail Clarke is an attorney in Maine, specializing in art law and representing art collectors in avoiding the purchase of fakes and art works of dubious provenance. One day, a man by the name of Gabriel Waterstone arrives in her office, without the usual referrals and her secretary's expert background check. The secretary, Edna, does a crash background check. Waterstone and Abigail sign an agreement for her to represent him at an art auction at a small Boston auction house, for his intended purchase of two pictures that have seemingly resurfaced after being  out of circulation for a long time. The paintings are withdrawn from sale at the last moment, and they go their separate ways. It's the single most unbelievable part of this novel that's really excellent overall.
After she's back in Maine, an FBI agent, Robert McDermot,  who is there on what he thinks is the first step in notification of the family and connections of a woman found murdered in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The woman had no ID on her, but running her photo through databases the police use for the purpose pulls up Abigail Clarke's driver's license. They think she's the dead woman.

Abigail Clarke was adopted as a two-year-old, found injured on a Boston street on the night of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist--a real heist in 1990, that has never been solved. DNA proves that Clarke and the dead woman are identical twins, and further research reveals she's Irish and still has family in Ireland. A criminal family, but family.

Aside from the compelling question of who killed her twin sister, Aisling Dolan, Abigail wants to know why the rest of the Dolans abandoned her and never attempted to recover her or make contact. She's found out some things the possibility of which had kept her from getting a DNA test earlier, but now she wants answers.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Waterstone has disappeared, and all trace of his business vanished from the web, leaving behind only the check he used to pay Abigail's firm--a check which has bounced.

She's soon off to Ireland, with her Grandma Stasha, her Russian adopted grandmother and along with cousin and friend Maura, her closest surviving family--other than the surviving Dolans, who are strangers.

What she finds is a family deeply involved in a crime ring. Originally they were stealing art to fund purchase of arms for the IRA; with the IRA much reduced, they've been happy to keep doing it for their own benefit. The news of Aisling's death hasn't gone public yet, and when she meets an older relative who is very ill, he mistakes Abigail for Aisling and tells her to take "the blue folder," which says is her legacy "and Saoirse's. Saoirse, she has learned, was the name her parents gave her at birth.

The next day, the man is dead, and not by natural causes.

She discovers someone is following her, and discovers that it's Gabriel Waterstone. Why? Her very unpleasant brother Rory, in prison currently, gets beaten up in prison after she visits him. Rory's security system at his home reveals that Waterstone followed her there, and it's revealed that the family member she visited, and another member of the criminal gang, were murdered the same way Aisling was, she knows who's following her, but not why. She connects with a very handsome and charming Italian insurance investigator, Alessandro Ricci who is also interested in Gabriel Waterstone and the recovery of some stolen art Waterstone has a very personal interest in. Soon they are off to Italy following a lead found in the file she was given--and life becomes more exciting, by which I mostly mean more dangerous. Mostly, but not entirely.

There's a clear love interest here, but it never takes over. Our characters keep their major focus on the art and the mysteries relating to Abigail's family. It adds a bit of extra flavor, rather than derailing the main narrative. I just could not stop reading; I had to know what happened.

The characters are very well done, and the plot certainly moves.

Highly recommended.

I receive a free electronic galley from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

No comments:

Post a Comment