Chaz Wilmot is a painter born outside his time. He possesses a virtuosic command of the techniques of the old masters. He can paint like Leonardo, Goya, Gainsboroughartists whose works sell for millionsbut this style of painting is no longer popular, and he refuses to shape his talent to fit the fashion of the day. So Wilmot makes his living cranking out parodies for ads and magazine covers. A break comes when an art dealer obtains for him a commission to restore a Venetian palace fresco by the eighteenth-century master Tiepolo, for a disreputable Italian businessman. Once there, Wilmot discovers that it is not a restoration but a re-creation, indeed a forgery. At first skeptical of the job, he then throws himself into the creative challenge and does the job brilliantly. No one can tell the modern work from something done more than two hundred years ago.
This feat attracts the attention of Werner Krebs, an art dealer with a dark past and shadier present who becomes Wilmot's friend and patron. Wilmot is suddenly working with a fervor he hasn't felt in years, but his burst of creative activity is accompanied by strange interludes: Without warning, he finds himself reliving moments from his pastnot as memories but as if they are happening all over again. Soon, it is no longer his own past he's revisiting; he believes he can travel back to the seventeenth century, where he lived as the Spanish artist Diego Rodríguez de Silva Velázquez, one of the most famous painters in history. Wilmot begins to fantasize that as Velázquez, he has created a masterpiece, a stunning portrait of a nude. When the painting actually turns up, he doesn't know if he painted it or if he imagined the whole thing.
Little by little, Wilmot enters a mirror house of illusions and hallucinations that propels him into a secret world of gangsters, greed, and murder, with his mystery patron at the center of it all, either as the mastermind behind a plot to forge a painting worth hundreds of millions, or as the man who will save Wilmot from obscurity and madness.
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"Starred Review. Gruber writes passionately and knowledgeably about art and its history--and he writes brilliantly about the shadowy lines that blur reality and unreality. Fans of intelligent, literate thrillers will be well rewarded." - Publishers Weekly.
"Starred Review. Fast, frightening and, as usual, richly imagined." - Kirkus Reviews.
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Michael Gruber was born and raised in New York City, and educated in its public
schools. He went to Columbia, earning a BA in English literature. After college
he did editorial work at various small magazines in New York, and then went back
to school at City College and got the equivalent of a second BA, in biology.
After that he went to the University of Miami and got a masters in marine
biology. In 1968-69 he was in the U. S. Army as a medic.
In 1973, he received his Ph.D. in marine sciences, for a study of octopus behavior. Then he was a chef at several Miami restaurants, a hippie traveling around in a bus and a roadie for various rock groups. After this he worked for the county manager of Metropolitan Dade County, as an analyst, then as director of planning for ...
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