Even though Archer (Sons of Fortune) grounds his international art-thievery thriller in the events of 9/11, this leisurely paced, tepid effort has a musty feel. It's September 10, 2001, and Lady Victoria Wentworth is sitting in spacious Wentworth Hall considering the sad state of family fortunes when a female intruder slips in, slashes her throat and cuts off her ear. The next day in New York, art expert Anna Petrescu heads to her job as art wrangler for wealthy magnate Bryce Fenston of Fenston Finance. The pair's offices are in the Twin Towers, and when disaster strikes, each sees the tragedy as an opportunity to manipulate a transaction scheduled to transfer ownership of a legendary Van Gogh painting, Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, from the Wentworth estate to the larcenous Fenston. The initially intriguing character, hit-woman and ex-gymnast Olga Krantz, turns out to be too lightweight, both physically and fictionally, to garner strong interest in anything other than her deadly skills with a kitchen knife. Lord Archer has been busy for the past five years or so serving half of a four-year prison sentence for perjury and writing a series of books about his prison experience; his first novel in seven years disappoints. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Having barely escaped the burning Twin Towers, Anna Petrescu takes advantage of being presumed dead to tease out the connection between an old lady's murder in England and the theft of a Van Gogh. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.