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A Dangerous Talent (An Alix London Mystery Book 1) by [Elkins, Charlotte, Elkins, Aaron]
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Length: 271 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews 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.


"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: 734 KB
  • Print Length: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (March 6, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 6, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Y0BYE2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,087 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ms Winston VINE VOICE on 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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The premise and setting were the draw for me with this book, and in that sense I was not disappointed. The author captured the feel of a first time visitor to Northern New Mexico and gave readers a glimpse into the Santa Fe art market. However, the characters felt two dimensional and cliched, and their actions seemed to stem not from who they were but from the author's need to insert a plot point. There were other issues of craft as well, including point of view shifts within scenes, word use problems, cliched dialogue, and simple errors (for example, referring to a character in a scene by the wrong name, misspelling a place name, and others). One of these authors, at least, is very experienced and should be able to do better. I was looking forward to reading this book but it did not live up to expectations.
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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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