Missing mosaics — at least there’s a rumor that some ancient mosaics are missing — and the wedding of Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan drive the storyline in Carla Neggers’ latest installment of her “Sharpe & Donovan” series. Liar’s Key, the sixth novel in the series, bounces between Boston and Maine, with stops in Ireland and London.
Witty dialogue, engaging characters and an intriguing mystery help keep the series fresh. Sharpe, an FBI agent specializing in art and antiquities, and Donovan, a deep undercover FBI agent, are weeks away from their wedding when a noted art historian dies unexpectedly. His death comes as rumors of stolen ancient mosaics begin to swirl.
The awkwardness between Emma’s job and the family business — collecting art — couldn’t be more acute. Neggers’ art world is a shadowy place where the rules keep changing. Art once acquired legally might now be considered purloined, and no one wants an FBI agent with an eye for art asking questions.
Gordon Wheelock, now a retired FBI agent, sets things in motion when he shows up at the Boston office asking questions about the mosaics and mentioning a thief and Emma’s family in the same breath.
The clues point to Oliver York, a noted British art thief with a tragic backstory, and Sharpe’s grandfather, Wendell. York is wily and charming. His banter with other characters is one of the highlights of a story that’s fresh and easy to follow.
For those new to the series, the story works well as a standalone. Neggers is adept at pulling in new readers without weighing the story down with background. Series fans are in for a wonderful reunion with longtime characters.
Jean Marie Brown, Special to the Star-Telegram
☆☆☆☆ (out of five)
- By Carla Neggers
- MIRA, $26.99