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Crime & Beyond met in January to discuss a book that wasn’t quite a mystery. I was curious to hear what everyone thought about that, and I was a bit surprised. We discussed Dominic Smith’s The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. It was a story that jumped around in time, from Amsterdam in 1631, to New York in 1957 and then Sydney in 2000. A story about art forgery and theft, secrets and deceit. There were no real jaw-dropping surprises, but there was a bit of intrigue and a love story or two.

Here’s what everyone thought:

Sharon K liked the forgery and how we found out that Sara painted other paintings, even though the world thought she had only painted one. 7.5

Terri enjoyed the historical aspects. 7

Lorraine was fascinated by the forgery and the guild rules that forced women in the 1600s to have their paintings signed by a man. 8

Kim found the back and forth between the time and different countries interesting. 8

Pat loved the skipping between locations and how poor Ellie was a struggling art student. 10

Chris couldn’t bring herself to finish the book. DNF

Dennis enjoyed it but definitely categorized it as an historical novel. 7

Denise thought it was fascinating and full of well-developed characters. She loved Rachel and how she hired beatniks for the party. She pictured Amsterdam via scenes from the movie The Danish Girl. 10

Deborah loved the three stories and the eloquent phrases written by the author. The themes she found in the book were: love and regret. 9.5

Jose loved it too. He thought each period was well-written and he loved the characters. As much as we thought Marty was a shit for doing what he did to Ellie, Jose noted that had things not progressed as they had, she wouldn’t have been a professor in Australia. Who knows where her life might have taken her. 10

Amy said the book “wasn’t her thang.” There was no suspense or mystery and she didn’t care about Ellie or Marty, or their stories. 4

Jeff had a hard time getting into it. He normally likes art books but nothing happened in this one to draw him in. It contained a victim-less crime and no mystery. 3

Dave thought it was a “yawner” and it held no interest for him whatsoever. He didn’t even like the characters. 2

Janice thought the book was lyrical. The writing and the plot were just ok, but she really wanted to see the painting. 5.5

Jay only liked Sara. The book was a slog to get through even though Jay is a painter himself and interested in art. 5

Janine loved it and learned a lot about the art world. She thought the dead whale was sad. 9.5

Bruce loved the writing but didn’t so much enjoy the flipping between the centuries. 9

Sharon L. didn’t care for the book. She thought the first half was better but struggled with the second because nothing was happening. 4

Kerry thought it was well-written and she enjoyed it, but was disappointed that it wasn’t a mystery. 7

Judy C. couldn’t get into it and didn’t come to the meeting. 4

Raj missed the meeting, and we had fun guessing what she would say about the book. We were pretty on point, she emailed later to tell me she thought the book had beautifully developed characters and that Marty deserved a slap. 8

I found this online: In New York a ‘Rent-a Beatnik’ service was started where your party or gathering could be enhanced with a poetry reading beatnik in the corner.

Dave recommends the movie Incognito, a story about art forgery from 1997.

We welcomed a new member, Karen, who is a neighbor of Lorraine's.

Denise made us some great cookies, each of which was a masterpiece painting. Very creative and they tasted wonderful too. I almost didn’t want to eat them, they were so pretty. I managed to power through my issues and ate 3.

Next month we will meet to discuss Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben. I will lead and Sharon K. is bringing the snacks. See you on the 27th.

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