So, we have another Kitty Thomas book on the blog today with The Con Artist.
Here’s our story. We have Saskia. She’s a very talented artist. She used to create her own original art, but after a fire, she just hasn’t had the energy to start back up. It wasn’t like she was selling anything anyway, so now she’s a starving artist. She paints forgeries, or more accurately, she paints reproductions for people who want to have their copies of the great art. The difference between a reproduction and a forgery is basically whose signature she signs on the picture. If she signs hers, it’s a reproduction. If she signs the original artist’s, it’s a forgery. There’s more to it than that, but that’s a good basic difference.
Saskia has run into Lachlan Niche. He is a tech whiz, and is worth piles and stacks of money. He wants a particular painting by Joseph Quill. Quill had died years ago, and he specialized in nudes. This particular painting is one of his early nudes. Lachlan has tried to buy the picture more than once, but the owner isn’t selling. So he hired Saskia to make a forgery and to steal the original for him. She’s supposed to switch the paintings around, easy peasy, lemon squeezie. Except, yeah, it never is.
For one thing, Saskia isn’t any kind of art thief, no matter what she told Lachlan. And for the second thing, she’s not planning on giving him the original. She’s running the long con. Her goal is to get her own pile of money from Niche, who is sleezy and who she feels perfectly justified in stealing from, then go to a tropical island and spend the rest of her life happy and creative, painting her own art and not caring if anyone buys it.
And again, it’s not as simple as it sounds, because if it was, the book wouldn’t be all that exciting or all that dark, would it?
This is a very Kitty book. I don’t think it’s the darkest one I’ve read of hers, but it is dark. It’s like a sensual dark though, thick, and rich, and velvety, and layered, and nuanced. Does that make sense? It does to me, and that’s about the best I can explain it. Part of what makes it a very Kitty book is her “hero”, not that I would call our MMC a hero, really. She writes these men that you want to hate and hate to want and yet can’t pull yourself away from. You know how, in nature, the venomous and poisonous bugs and critters are all brightly colored and basically scream leave me alone? Well, imagine that some of her heroes are neon pink with acid green stripes. Everything is saying to stay away from them because they are dangerous, deviant, and dark. You know that they are the bad guys, but you just need to be with them, no matter what. There isn’t necessarily a whole lot of redemption arc for the guys to go through, and in some books, they get worse as the books go along, but you still can’t manage to stay away from them.
That’s not to say that her women aren’t strong or they are pushovers, because they aren’t. They are flawed, deeply flawed, often broken, and are basically just like every person out there. You can really see yourself in her women, even if you aren’t an artist or whatever, because they are so real.
Saskia got cocky, and thought that she could get away with everything she wanted, and she ended up in trouble because she found someone who had this whole dominant huge personality thing going on. He’s also more broken than she is. But even in that damage that both of them have, he does what he does for a purpose. Might not be the way that you or I would do them, but, he has his reasons.
There are some really hot scenes in books that always stick with me, and the performance art installation is one that is in my personal top 10 list, because dayum.
The first time I read this, I wondered what went through the MMC’s head sometimes. And frankly, I still do. There’s a lot that runs through there. Fascinating though.
OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check out all of Kitty’s work, you won’t be sorry you did. Happy reading!