...another intriguing crime and law enforcement story after Archer's
“False Impression” (2005) is much more interesting to read compare to the former (Shall We…), considering that the latter has something to do with 911 (Sep 11) bombing in New York, and I think everybody has still the vivid memory of what happened on that day when America cried!
There are 8 main characters in the story headed by the beautiful, athletic, artist, intelligent, successful, honest and ambitious woman, Dr Anna Petrescu working in a bank (Fenston Finance) located in one of the Twin Towers. Her life is in danger on the final stage of the negotiation/transaction with her new client, Lady Victoria Wentworth, the daughter of the late General Sir Harry Wentworth (Earl of Wentworth) in London. Unfortunately, without the knowledge of Anna, the heiress died before the 911 bombing and she is set to meet her to discuss the final arrangement for the debts and inheritance, including the art collection – one of them is the art of Van Gogh. Another problems strike – Anna was fired by her boss in connection of the transaction, and while she is leaving the office in the North Tower, she encountered the ‘life and death’ episode when an aircraft hit the Twin Towers! Her survival from the tragedy leads her to carry-on the negotiation with the twin sister of the heiress, Lady Arabella Wentworth without the knowledge of her former boss.
On the other hand, her boss a successful New York banker, Bryce Fenston and his sole adviser, Karl Leapman are happy on the things happening which makes the transaction easy for them to continue the unfinished business deal of Anna – the same plan similar to what they have done in their previous clients. It is interesting to know that these guys are hiding something about their illegal businesses in the past. On the other hand, detective and FBI agent, Jack Delaney is assigned to re-open the cases against Anna’s boss, subsequently Anna’s herself after the death of Lady Victoria. The fifth player in the story is Olga Krantz, the former Olympic gymnast being hired by Mr Fenston to do the leg-works of killing those innocent clients! The twin sister of the client, Arabella plays an important role in the later part of the story, especially in the final negotiation of the inheritance, including the Japanese businessman (steel magnate), Mr Nakamura who is interested to acquire the painting of Van Gogh, even it will cost him 50 million dollars. He also convinced Anna to work with his foundation. Moreover, Anna’s officemate and best friend, Tina Forster is also a key player in the story that helped Anna to recover the painting from Mr Fenston.
There is so much to learn from the book which leads to answer questions about the drive or intention of each character in the story. For example, why Anna stole the painting and brought it to her home country and her former boss is desperate to find her despite the fact that she is already in the list of people died in the 911 bombing? As the story progresses, I created several IMPRESSIONS for each character. To some extent, my first impressions about them are FALSE. Thus, I somewhat jumped to conclusion of why things are happening or why these characters are doing this or doing that.
And most importantly, why the photograph taken during the day of the memorial service in the Twin Towers’ area - showing Mr Fenston (Anna’s boss) having a shake hand with the US President (Bush) as the ultimate sole evidence for the conviction in Lady Victoria’s murder?
Well, even the PAINTING (Portrait de L’Artiste San Barbe, self-portrait) itself has its own mystery that gives a ‘FALSE IMPRESSION’ to the artists and painting collectors… And the intriguing TITLE OF THE BOOK also makes a wrong impression to the readers as well. Mr Archer proves again that he is one of the greatest storytellers in the 21st century. This is a new literary work which somewhat different from his traditional stories.
On the other hand, the story reminds me of my interest in arts and my hobby of collecting big posters (movies, portrait, and landscapes); and jigsaw puzzles, coaster (Im not a drinker) and my paintings as well.
It also reminds me of my personal appreciation to visit museums and galleries to view some magnificent works of prominent artists around the world like the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Picasso, Raphael, Botticelli, etc. To date, I have not even purchase any of these masterpieces, even a ‘CLONE’ (fake) of one of them. But my wish, maybe someday I could own one!