The Art of Deception (The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries 4)
This is the fourth in Leonard Goldberg’s mystery series featuring Joanna Blalock Watson, the daughter of Sherlock Holmes; her husband, Dr. John Watson, Jr., who narrates the series; and his father, the original Dr. Watson. As Christmas 1916 approaches, Inspector Lestrade calls on Joanna and the Watsons to help investigate art vandalism in galleries and private collections in London. A series of paintings, mostly works by Italian Renaissance artists, have been slashed in such a way that it is clear to Joanna that the vandal is looking for a masterpiece concealed behind one of the paintings. The most obvious culprits are two art restorers who had been employed by the gallery where all the damaged paintings have been sent for repair, until the restorers were convicted of forgery. At first this seems to be a false trail, because one of them supposedly died in an explosion in prison, while the other fled to Australia. All is not as it seems, though, and Joanna goes on the hunt for a clever criminal and a missing masterpiece before the painting can be sold on the black market.
This is an excellent series, and Joanna’s deductive abilities are the equal of her father’s. Her son, Johnny, home from Eton because of a cholera outbreak at the school, shows signs of following in his grandfather’s footsteps. This is more of a straightforward mystery than the previous two volumes, which dealt with World War I intrigue. Goldberg draws a fascinating picture of the dark side of London’s art world, including forgery, theft, and sales of art on the black market. Since the focus is on Italian Renaissance paintings, the reader will learn much about that period in art. I highly recommend the series, beginning with The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes.