Murdered artists. Masterful forgeries.
Art crime at its worst.
A straightforward murder investigation quickly turns into a quagmire of stolen Eurocorps weapons, a money-laundering charity, forged art and high-ranking EU officials abusing their power.
As an insurance investigator and world renowned expert in nonverbal communication, Dr Genevieve Lenard faces the daily challenge of living a successful, independent life. Particularly because she has to deal with her high functioning Autism. Nothing – not her studies, her high IQ or her astounding analytical skills – prepared her for the changes about to take place in her life.
It started as a favour to help her boss’ acerbic friend look into the murder of a young artist, but soon it proves to be far more complex. Forced out of her predictable routines, safe environment and limited social interaction, Genevieve is thrown into exploring the meaning of friendship, expanding her social definitions, and for the first time in her life be part of a team in a race to stop more artists from being murdered.
As many of you know, in my “regular” life I am an art historian and love books that are related to art and artists. Clearly, a book with a title like “The Gauguin Connection” was going to pique my interest and it certainly did. I just wish my interest had been held all the way through.
What I liked:
*Genevieve: I instantly liked Genevieve when the following happened:
“Pleased to meet you, Ms. Lenard.”
“It’s Doctor Lenard. And you’re not.”
“Not pleased to meet me.”
Yep, that is the precise moment (between pages 1 and 3) I fell in like with Genevieve. The moment I fell in love with her is when it is precisely explained that she is an extremely high functioning autistic woman with a genius-level IQ who has worked her entire life to learn how to read people down to the most minute detail. Because of her skill – which is ranked third in the world – she is an invaluable asset to the insurance company she works for. Genevieve’s ability to spot connections and detect misbehavior has made her an extraordinary fraud detector and that is precisely why the police are asking for her help.
*Manny: the detective who is not, in fact pleased to meet Genevieve but is in desperate need of her help. Turns out, a whole butt load of weapons have gone missing, there’s a dead girl and, officials at the highest level may be involved in the whole mess. Manny only trusts a few people and one of his dearly trusted friends tells him that if anyone can help him, it is Dr. Genevieve Lenard.
*Colin: aah, the criminal with a heart. I adore Colin and from the moment you meet him, you understand that he is not your average criminal. In fact, Colin is not your average human and seems to be the only person on Earth that Genevieve can tolerate. From the moment they meet, Colin and Genevieve connect with one another but she has problems with his means and methods and only reluctantly agrees to his help. Turns out, the criminal with a heart grows on the doctor and before she fully appreciates what is happening, she comes to rely on Colin.
*Vinny: aah, the other criminal with a heart. He is big and brutish (though very intelligent according to Genevieve’s read) and is absolutely devoted to Colin. Vinny’s one and only concern is keeping Genevieve safe because that is what Colin wants. Vinny is also a spectacular cook and takes no crap off anyone, including Manny 🙂
What I didn’t like:
*The extraneous detail: Though I fully appreciate that all of the detail is something that is particular to Genevieve, there is much in the book that I could have done without. In fact, as I neared the end of the read, I began skipping great chunks of text because I knew it would just contain a lot of detail I didn’t need.
*The repetition regarding Genevieve and her autism: after the first few explanations regarding Genevieve’s behavior after an “episode” or particular event is more than enough to inform the reader about her behaviors and what techniques she has developed to cope with each event. To be sure, the explanations are fascinating but as the read wears on, the repetition regarding Genevieve and her behavior becomes yet another chunk of text that the reader can skip.
The Bottom Line: I am so very on the fence where this read is concerned. On the plus side, I am such a huge fan of character-driven reads and the characters are definitely the strength of this read. On the minus side, the extraneous detail and repetition is quite trying to the point that by the time I got toward the end of the novel, I actually didn’t care about the big reveal and the arrest of the big bads. With that being said, I really did like each of the major characters and the interactions between them. Genevieve is such a unique and interesting character – an unlikely hero to be sure. The fact that a person with Genevieve’s particular issues can overcome her own particular fears to referee the three men in her life – two criminals and one cop – makes her truly intriguing and I have to admit, the strength of the characters is going to be just enough to pull me into the second book in the series. To be fair, the second book will absolutely be the make it or break it book for me.