Shooting Gallery: An Art Lover's Mystery
by Hailey Lind
Review by Cathy Green
Signet Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0451219732
Date: 03 October, 2006 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
If you enjoy Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy series or Iain Pears' art history mysteries featuring art historian Jonathan Argyll and Flavia di Stefano of Rome's Art Theft Squad, then you will enjoy Shooting Gallery by Hailey Lind. The book is a fun romp through San Francisco's art scene with some romance and a couple murders and car chases thrown in for good measure.
Annie Kincaid, art restorer and faux finisher (painting decorative finishes in homes and businesses), is doing her best to stay on the straight and narrow, running a legitimate business rather than following her grandfather into the glamorous world of art forgery and theft. Unfortunately, her two worlds keep colliding. When Annie attends a gallery opening, she notices a body hanging from a tree that is clearly not par of the exhibit. The body turns out to be that of the artist whose work is being exhibited. Never one to let a little thing like a dead body ruin her day, Annie picks up a commission at the gallery while waiting for the police to arrive, when one of the exhibit-goers hires her to retrieve a sculpture from artist Robert Pascal, a friend of Annie's father. Meanwhile, at the nearby Brock Art Museum a Chagall has been stolen and one of Annie's friends, Brian, is a suspect because, drama queen that he is, he and an entire tour group had a bout of Stendhal Syndrome and fainted in a heap while viewing a Gauguin. Naturally, the police assume he did it deliberately as a diversion, and of course Annie feels obligated to do a little detective work to help him out.
As if Annie's life weren't complicated enough with the theft and the murder, her mother comes for a visit and is behaving strangely. And the retrieval of the Pascal sculpture turns out to be more complicated than Annie anticipated, resulting, among other things, in a stakeout of the artist's studio that turns into a drunken picnic complete with singing drag queens. And on top of that Annie's art thief acquaintance Michael (if that's even his name) wanders into town seeking Annie's help and that's just the beginning of her troubles. It seems that virtually everyone Annie knows is up to no good.
Lind does a good job of tying the numerous plot threads together into a coherent narrative that neatly wraps up virtually everything in the end. She has given her protagonist an irreverent outlook that serves the book well, giving it a tongue in cheek quality throughout. Shooting Gallery is an amusing romp with several laugh out loud moments, including at the book's climax -- a chase scene involving a donut truck that Stephanie Plum would feel right at home being involved in. Do not worry if you have not read Lind's earlier book, Feint of Art. I have not read it yet, and had no problems following the plot or understanding who the various characters were. I did, however, enjoy Shooting Gallery enough that I want to get my hands a copy of her earlier book. And I'm looking forward to reading the further adventures of Annie Kincaid.