Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.
Reviewed by Mark Lardas
March 20, 2022
“Where Art Thou?” by Sean Little, Spilled Inc. Press, 2022, 188 pages, $20.00 (paperback), $5.00 (Ebook)
Abe Allard and C. S. Duffy are private investigators in Chicago. Not the glamorous investigators of movies and novels, or even noir detectives of mysteries. They do research for lawyers, background checks for corporations, and track unfaithful spouses.
“Where Art Thou,” by Sean Little, takes the fictional pair out of their ordinary paths. They are hired to investigate an art theft. Their wealthy client, Geo McMahon, had a sketch stolen.
McMahon collects art. His home is filled with valuable artwork, including some worth millions. Despite the security he has, a thief was able to penetrate it and steal a piece of art. But the thief only one piece, a hyper-realistic sketch by an up-and-coming black Chicago artist. It is worth very little. It is not even what the artist was known for prior to his overdose death. While he did some hyperrealism early in his career, he was best known for his abstracts. McMahon wants to learn why that particular piece was taken.
The pair plunge into the world of fine art. It is not their natural element. Abe (short for Aberforth, not Abraham) is the detail man. He is an introvert, happiest pouring over old records. Middle-aged, Duffy is his only friend. His marriage dissolved when his wife of 20 years came out as lesbian. He lives in a studio apartment within walking distance of his old house, to keep in touch with his teenaged daughter.
Duffy, known as Duff, is Abe’s polar opposite. Also middle-aged, he is brash, and in-your-face. He has no filters. He frequently introduces himself to total strangers by making obnoxious, yet invariably true observations about them. He has no life outside work, video games, and spectator sports. He dresses in sweats, and lives in his office.
These two misfits make an unlikely, yet successful team within their professions. They will not get rich, but they get by. They also unpeel the layers surrounding the mystery of the theft, to solve it.
This is a different sort of mystery. There are no shootouts or car chases (unless you call a trip down I-94 from Chicago to Detroit and back a car chase). The rich are not automatically the villains. The pair confront no violence, not even the murder seemingly obligatory to mysteries. Despite that, “Where Art Thou” is fascinating and engaging. The solution is original and satisfying. You want to see what their next adventure will be.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com .