The Metropolitan Affair (On Central Park)

Written by Jocelyn Green
Review by G. J. Berger

Thirty-two-year-old Lauren Westlake has advanced far in a man’s world. She has risen to expert curator of Egyptian antiquities at NYC’s massive and prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art. In normal times, collecting, identifying, sorting, and exhibiting ancient pieces is arduous and exacting work. Now, in the winter of 1925, Lauren’s load gets heavier. An old boyfriend from her teen years, now Manhattan Detective Joe Caravello, asks for her help. He must track down crooks who sell forged antiques to New York’s upper crust.

Lauren’s relationship with her father, 70-year-old Dr. Lawrence Westlake, and her mother, who died too young, add a heart-tugging layer to the widening crime mystery. Lawrence, for decades an explorer of Egyptian ruins and world-renowned expert, had paid scant attention to Lauren and her sickly mother while Lauren was growing up. Now, rather suddenly, Lawrence wants to promote his daughter and solicits her assistance in creating a new museum of Egyptian rarities at an old estate in Rhode Island.

Green expertly guides readers through the precious antiques and the culture and mores of the civilization that made them. Readers can visualize the real treasures, the forgeries, and the subtle or tiny characteristics that separate the genuine from the fake. The family and crime sagas intertwine in surprising but sensible ways. Lauren’s and Joe’s rekindled roller-coaster relationship feels natural. Secondary characters—workers at the Met, other police dealing with the mob and Prohibition, New York’s wealthy families—blend well. Highly recommended for anyone interested in ancient Egyptian artifacts and a high-society crime set a century ago.