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A Dangerous Talent (An Alix London Mystery) [Kindle Edition]

Aaron Elkins , Charlotte Elkins
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Alix London has a promising career as an art consultant, a sumptuous condo in Seattle’s toniest neighborhood, a gorgeous figure, and a presence that exudes Ivy League breeding and old money. She has it all…or does she? Only Alix knows that the image she presents to the world is a carefully constructed mirage that veils an embarrassing truth. A brilliant, once-promising art student, the daughter of a prominent New York art conservator, her world was left in ruins when her father went to prison for art forgery. Now a Harvard dropout with an emptied bank account, she is languishing in a career that has produced little more than a lucky house-sitting gig. But all of that changes when Alix meets Christine Lemay, a novice art collector with money to burn and a hot tip on a recently discovered painting by American master Georgia O’Keeffe. Chris hires Alix to perform the authentication, an assignment that finally could launch Alix into the big leagues. But soon after her arrival in Santa Fe, she finds herself tangled up in a web of forgery, deceit—and murder. Anxious to avoid becoming the next victim, she teams up with FBI Special Agent Ted Ellesworth—and gets a little unlikely help from her roguish father—to uncover the truth behind the painting and those who would kill to have it. Sharp, witty, and devilishly fun, A Dangerous Talent offers an insider’s look into the surprisingly treacherous contemporary art world.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q&A with Charlotte and Aaron Elkins, authors of A Dangerous Talent



Question: A Dangerous Talent is a fast-paced mystery set in the high end Art world. Alix London is the daughter of an infamous art forger who is called upon to help verify the authenticity of nothing less than a Georgia O'Keeffe, and things go south from there. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this story? Was there a reason that you chose Georgia O'Keefe specifically?

Charlotte: In casting around for a background for a character, I remembered a fundraiser I'd attended when we were living back East. The celebrity guest was high up in the New York art scene, and the society scene as well. Not long afterwards, this glamorous person was convicted in a price-fixing scandal that destroyed her career and her reputation, and barely missed earning her jail time. Since there have been similar profile cases, and I became intrigued with the idea of developing a character, not based one of these high-society felons, but about the daughter of one, whose life had been turned down upside down by the scandal. And Alix London was born.

Question: There is a lot of great and in-depth art information in A Dangerous Talent. Can you tell us about some of the research you did?

Charlotte and Aaron: We never write about a place we haven't been to and researched. We based ourselves in Santa Fe (wonderful restaurants!) where there is a new Georgia O'Keeffe museum and also a research center dedicated to her. We toured the museum, of course, and applied for and were given permission to do some work in the research center. We'd also made an appointment to tour her studio in the tiny village of Abiquiu, 50 miles north of Santa Fe, in glorious red-rock country.

In Taos, we spent a night in the house of O'Keeffe's friend, art patron and local doyenne Mabel Dodge Luhan. Now a conference center, this was the house in which O'Keeffe spent her first summer in New Mexico, so there are many memories of her. There, you can brush your teeth or take a morning bath in the only bathroom in the world with windows personally painted by DH Lawrence, another friend of Mabel's who spent a lot of time in the house.

Question: A Dangerous Talent isn't all art authentication; there are a few explosions, white-knuckle car chase scenes, a Lamborghini, and even a bit of romance, but at its heart it's a true mystery with a great heroine. Will Alix London fans see her again? Can you tell us a little more about what in store for her next?

Charlotte and Aaron: Not only will Alix's fans see her again, but they'll see many of the characters they meet in A Dangerous Talent. Her roguish forger-father, now gone straight (or has he?), along with his band of ex-con art forgery experts, her new, rich, ex-techie friend Chris with her snazzy wine bar, and, of course, undercover art-squad FBI agent Ted Ellesworth all will be showing up again in the next Alix London mystery, when Alix gets her first consulting assignment from the squad.

Review

"Whenever a new book from the Elkins arrives, I let the cats go hungry and put my own work on hold till I've finished it."-Elizabeth Peters author of Crocodile on the Sandbank, and The Curse of the Pharaohs

Product Details

  • File Size: 475 KB
  • Print Length: 271 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1612182739
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (March 6, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Y0BYE2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,893 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
132 of 135 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Mystery Set in the World of Art February 24, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the first book by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins that I have read, so I have nothing from their past works to use as a yardstick. At first I was a little confused as into which category of mystery to place "A Dangerous Talent": is it a traditional mystery, romantic suspense, or a cozy? Finally I settled on plain old garden variety "mystery," as I feel the book is a combination of all three, and just couldn't make up my mind!

The book is the first of a projected series featuring art consultant Alix London, estranged daughter of a convicted art forger. Alix is almost 30 years old, divorced for 9 years, a loner mostly by choice. Although her unresolved anger about her father sometimes becomes too much, she is pretty much a sympathic heroine. She is a well-educated young woman who likes a hearty meal and is an expert at making ends meet. She has an instinct about art that cannot be taught, although she has studied with the best in the business. When she is contacted by a novice art collector (Christine Lemay) to verify that a newly-discovered painting by Georgia O'Keefe is the real thing, she is off to New Mexico with Chris. There she is almost killed when a propane heater explodes in her room. Alex is then introduced to a cast of characters who include a man who is almost immediately shown to the reader, but not to Alix, to be an undercover F.B.I. agent on the art forgery squad. They "meet cute," and take an instant dislike to each other -- which is one of the tropes of a romantic suspense novel. There is also an old failed romance, which may or may not be rekindled, between Chris and the pilot of the airplane that took them from Seattle to New Mexico.

For me, the best parts of the book had to do with the art world of Santa Fe -- the dealers, the collectors, the artists.
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86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerous Talent February 26, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book introduces you to Alix London, art restorer, consultant, and daughter of convicted forger. The third making the first two a more challenging career choice than they might otherwise have been. When Christine LeMay hires her to authenticate a Georgia O'Keefe painting she's already promised to purchase for 3MM, Alix thinks this might just be the start of the art advising career she'd hoped for before her dad's imprisonment left that dream in tatters. The two women forge a fast friendship as they travel to Santa Fe, New Mexico to view the painting at the gallery of one of Chris' long-time friends. Trouble quickly finds them, and Alix begins to suspect that the painting might not be what it's cracked up to be. What follows is a fun, fast-paced romp through a well-described northern New Mexico as Alix and Chris try to unravel the provenance of the O'Keefe. A Dangerous Talent is an absorbing and entertaining mystery with just the right combination of intrigue, romance, and humor. The pages fly by and leave you wanting more.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in the art world February 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A talented painter can re-create a work by a famous artist and make it look so real that only an expert can tell the difference -- and even the experts get fooled from time to time. Alix London is one of those experts, and when she's hired by a wealthy art collector to authenticate an obscure Georgia O'Keeffe painting, her challenge is to determine whether the painting is worth its $3 million price tag.

Alix is living in Seattle and struggling financially when she's approached by Christine LeMay, a dotcom millionaire with a taste for art. Alix's father, Geoff London, spent years in prison for forging artworks, so Alix is understandably concerned about being seen as a legitimate art appraiser. She sees the O'Keeffe project as a way to cement her reputation and earn some much-needed cash.

Alix and Chris fly to Santa Fe and enter the heady art world of the Southwest. Alix quickly finds that not all is as it seems there, with a host of shady characters including the owner of the gallery that plans to sell Chris the O'Keeffe painting. When attempted murder and then actual murder take place, Alix is drawn into solving the mystery, despite the very real danger to herself and her client.

A Dangerous Talent gives an interesting glimpse into the world of art collecting and provides an accurate picture of the arts scene in Santa Fe. I found this book a quick, enjoyable read with likeable characters. The way the book ends suggests that it's just the first in a series. I look forward to more installments.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming on many levels! March 5, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A Dangerous Talent is my first book by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins, but definitely not my last. The story of intrepid art consultant, Alix London has humor, class, suspense, and some non-gooshy romance. The two Elkins create colorful characters including the Italian-word-dropping Tiny, the colorfully dressed and continually foot-in-mouthed Chris, and the cheerio-spouting British father, Geoff. This interesting lot populating the novel keep their activities largely clean and out of the bedroom which is refreshing in books written for adults and adds a level of good taste to this mystery.

I also liked the story's respectful treatment of art and artists. Let's just say that I think the Elkins and I could go on a gallery walk together and find a lot in common. Georgia O'Keefe, Maurice Utrillo, Stanley Royle, Pierre Bonnard all get name drops and admiring ones at that. And I thank this novel for mentioning John Constable, an artist I hadn't been familiar with but one that I'm enjoying getting to know.

Overall, for the art fan, the mystery fan, the strong female protagonist fan, and the feel-good fan, this book will make a nice treat. I'll be watching for more from Alix London and the Elkins!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Predictable
Escape Read. Quick, entertaining, so-so. Not a "I can't put it down book". Enjoyed the character Chris more than Alix.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice reading
an interesting plot, well written. Also an interesting and artistic trip through the west - great to take on a summer road trip
Published 2 days ago by Linda B Kinnaman
4.0 out of 5 stars a nice read
I bought this book for something to read while I am on the bicycle at the gym. But I found myself reading it at home because I wanted to know "who did it". Read more
Published 2 days ago by Lisa Ahmed
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read
I have lived outside Seattle for 40+ years and found that Mr.Elkins has a great eye for Seattle and Seattleites. Nice pace and interesting setting and area of interest. Fun read.
Published 5 days ago by John Sheehan
3.0 out of 5 stars fun read
Santa Fe area description was well done. Killer @ motive were obvious. I would read another book from this author.
Published 9 days ago by Timothy P. Bushnell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful satire of the art world, Santa Fe, and "Bahstan" accents
This mystery is terrific fun - lots of satire, engaging characters, and good writing. I was so sorry that the book had to end. Read more
Published 13 days ago by M. S. Menzin
5.0 out of 5 stars a good read
I like Aaron Elkins' Gideon Oliver stories and enjoyed the first Alix London book by Elkins and his wife Charlotte. Ready to read the next one
Published 16 days ago by Cam
4.0 out of 5 stars fun read
fun read. Being an artist myself and knowledge of the New Mexico area, I could appreciate that connection in the story. I'll be looking for more Alix London mysteries.
Published 20 days ago by Ann Bolin
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading, different king of crime scene
Not totally probable plot, but good to pass the time if you have read any whodunnits lately.

I think that by requiring a minimum amount of words to be used in a review... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Alexander Donkersloot
5.0 out of 5 stars page turner
Love art! Love mystery! Get them both. I recommend this book for enjoyment and some art history knowledge as well.
Published 24 days ago by Brenda Conard
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