Camel Press, Apr 11 2011, $17.95
Magazine Editor Laurel Imperiole and NYPD Identity Theft chief Aaron Gerrard are on vacation in Florence, Italy. At the Uffizi Museum, Laurel accidently bumps into a man she assumes is an Italian. As she apologizes in Italian and English, she realizes he is Jeff Sargasso who died in the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Although Aaron and the museum Dottore security chief thinks she lost her mind but Laurel knew Jeff for a decade and was with his grieving widow Monica when the authorities presumed her husband was dead. Laurel recalls that Sargasso, an art dealer, was working on a nine-digit dollar sale of a masterpiece lost during World War II between CEO Alfred Hammersmith who also died in the WTC terrorist attack and billionaire MMJapan Corporation CEO Miayamu Moto. Laurel meets and pairs up with private investigator Helen McCorkendale; as they follow leads back to New York while dealing with Mossad operative Lior Stern and unscrupulous collectors. Aaron warns her to back off, but Laurel and Helen continue the hunt for Sargasso and the painting.
This is an exhilarating art investigative thriller with several neat twists. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jeff and laurel bump into each other and never slows down. Filled with action, but containing a strong cast, readers will want to know why Jeff decided to be dead while Laurel obsesses over the case to the point that trust becomes an issue. Readers will relish Cathi Stoler’s taut tale of deception.