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At the center of James' intriguingly constructed plot are British born octogenarian Sidonie Keene and her artist sister, Naomi, who moved in the most elite circles of 1930s German society, regularly socializing with Hitler and other high level Nazis. Naomi's intimate portraits of these powerful men brought her modest fame, but her British homeland quickly labeled her a traitor for consorting with the Nazis, and she died tragically and in disgrace. Sidonie became a virtual recluse after the war, hoping to distance herself from her sister's ignominy. With the passage of time, Naomi's paintings have become fashionable with a few avid (and wealthy) collectors. The question is, Do more of her paintings exist? Hugo Gottfleisch, sometime art dealer and cultured scoundrel, is convinced that Naomi's undiscovered paintings will yield him a fortune, but his scheme to unearth them results in unexpected violence and reveals a long buried secret as tragic as it is bizarre. James effectively juxtaposes Sidonie's frank reminiscences of the politics and players in prewar Germany with Gottfleisch's tortuous attempts to dupe Sidonie and exploit Naomi's lost'' work. The combination makes for a mesmerizing mystery thriller that is also a chillingly compelling examination of evil. This is an exceptional book from one of the UK's finest genre writers. Booklist
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