Four years ago, what Matt Friedrich learned at work put him in prison. Yesterday, it earned him a job. Tomorrow, it may kill him.
Matt learned all the angles at his old Los Angeles gallery: how to sell stolen art, how to “enhance” a painting’s history, how to help buyers hide their purchases from their spouses or the IRS. He made a load of money doing it — money he poured into the lawyer who worked a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney. Matt’s out on parole, broke and hopelessly in debt with no way out…until a shadowy woman from his past recruits him to find a collection of stolen art that could be worth millions.
Now Matt’s in Milan, impersonating a rich collector looking for deals. He has twenty days to track down something that may not exist for a boss who knows a lot more than she’s telling. He’s saddled with a tough-talking partner who may be out to screw him and up against a shady gallerist whom Matt tried to send to prison. His parole officer doesn’t know he’s left the U.S. Worse yet, what Matt’s looking for may belong to the local branch of the Calabrian mafia.
Matt’s always been good at being bad. If he’s good enough now, he gets a big payday with the promise of more to come. But one slip in his cover, one wrong word from any of the sketchy characters surrounding him, could hand Matt a return trip to jail…or a long sleep in a shallow grave.
What the Reviewers Say
“The Collection is a breezy read in the way the very early Leslie Charteris’ Saint novels were breezy: entertaining with an underlining of grit below the surface…” — Criminal Element
“Add a gritty blend of international atmosphere, street savvy, art world politics and processes, and criminal interests to the action-packed saga of a ticking time bomb and you have a multi-faceted, well-detailed story that’s hard to put down and highly recommended for detective story and intrigue readers looking for something refreshingly original…” — Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review Bookwatch
“The mystery has enough twists and turns — with the characters keeping plenty of secrets — to keep the reader guessing until the very end… A charming start to what promises to be an intriguing series.” — The BookLife Prize
“Author Charnes has developed a meticulously complex, rapid-paced plot, and some of the ways the scam works are briefly difficult to follow, but you never believe for a moment that he hasn’t thought the whole thing through… More excitement to come!” — Crime Fiction Lovers
Bonus material: The Collection art gallery and a conversation with the author.
Published 2016. ISBN: 978-0-9886903-6-3 (paperback); 978-0-9886903-7-0 (ePub)