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The Triumph of Bacchus, by Douglas Skeggs

June 16, 2014

Felony of the Week: The Triumph of Bacchus, by Douglas Skeggs

One of the legacies of years spent in journalism is the constant search for a “news-hook.” It’s never enough to say “Here is an interesting story I stumbled across.” Rather, one must bolster the interesting story, justify its interestingness, in fact, by connecting it to something in the “real world” – the weather, an election, an upcoming holiday, the final season of “Mad Men.”

I say “must” as though this were some sort of rule, Article 16 in the Journalist’s Handbook, but in fact, it’s mostly a function of writers’ (and editors’) laziness. Some news-hooks, of course, are genuine: If it’s early November and you’re about to go to press with a story on gun fatalities, you’re allowed to open with a nod to JFK’s assassination. In a story about the rising price of heating oil, it’s entirely legit to note how cold the winter has been. But much of the time, that reference to the late spring or the fact that Arbor Day is right around the corner is just a cheap attempt to gin up interest in a subject that, in truth, ought to be able to stand on its own merits.

All of (long-winded) which is to say that I went searching for a news-hook for this week’s Felonious Discount, and came up empty. I’m heading to Boston next week for a wedding, but try as I might, I couldn’t think of any of our books that revolve around weddings or – with the exception of the wonderful Nathan Aldyne series – are set in Boston (and we’ve recently showcased the Aldynes). So I made a big, brave, grown-up decision: This week, we are featuring a book for no reason, NO REASON, other than the fact that it’s really good and deserves some attention.

The book is The Triumph of Bacchus, by Douglas Skeggs, and it’s a real pip, about forging an Old Master. Skeggs is himself an artist (and a museum director, and a lecturer on fine art, and the author of a biography of Monet), and clearly knows more than a little about both the forger’s bag of tricks and the market for counterfeit art. All the arcana is seamlessly woven into a deliciously suspenseful plot with a nifty little romance angle on the side. Bacchus will not change your life, or get you ready for bikini-season, or help you put tasty and nutritious meals on your family’s table. But if you like clever, unusual mystery fiction – and for some reason, we think maybe you do – it should make you happy as a clam. And given this week’s discount of 50% off, make that a happy and thrifty clam.

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