By Anna Porter
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: April 6, 2021
A savvy art world thriller with a strong, independent heroine and the follow-up to The Appraisal, finalist for the 2018 Staunch Prize.
Former Budapest cop Attila Feher would really like to see art expert Helena Marsh again, so he arranges a contract for her to determine whether a painting is a copy of a famous Artemisia Gentileschi canvas or the real thing. A simple appraisal becomes a dangerous assignment when usual eastern European gangsters show up and people start dying and the seething corruption that underlies the lost promise of post-Soviet Hungary swirls to the surface. In a race to get to the truth and to outwit her adversaries, Helena and Attila must solve the mystery of the painting’s origins.
Richly atmospheric, set in Strasbourg, Budapest, and Paris, this witty, sophisticated novel will satisfy readers of political thrillers by Alan Furst and Philip Kerr. Deceptions is a thinking-person’s thriller, a romp to the last satisfying page.
Anna Porter Layers on the Intrigue in Her Second Art-World Thriller ‘Deceptions’
— Kim Honey, Zed Book Club, April 6, 2021
Praise for Deceptions
“In Porter’s exciting sequel to 2017’s The Appraisal, art appraiser Helena Marsh attempts to trace the provenance of a painting believed to be the work of 17th-century artist Artemisia Gentileschi. Helena has her own fascinating provenance: she’s the daughter of a forger, now dead, who taught her the tricks of his trade, and instilled in her a healthy disdain for authority. Helena’s client, Gizella Vaszary, believes her husband is trying to pass an original off as a copy in order to undervalue it in their divorce settlement. Helena meets with Madam Vaszary’s lawyer on a Rhine tour boat in Strasbourg, France. Before much information has been exchanged, the lawyer is shot and killed by an archer. Helena jumps from the boat onto the embankment and runs after the assassin. Soon the police are on her trail, which leads into the netherworld of shady eastern European gangsters, corrupt politicians, and collectors who will pay any price to get what they want. The forgery tips alone are worth the price of admission. Porter takes readers on an exhilarating ride.” — Publisher’s Weekly
“In the latest adventure of Helena Marsh, ace art appraiser, our heroine emerges as her usual assured self. What makes this woman so eternally confident? Maybe it’s her lineage. Her father made his living as an art forger. Or, more likely, it’s her devotion to preparedness. Wherever her assignments take Helena, she equips herself with disguises and alternate identity papers. She also packs heat at all times. Her current assignment is to decide whether a painting purportedly by the Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi is the real thing, a fake or a copy. Helena is barely into the case, an investigation that drops her into the dicier neighbourhoods of Strasbourg and Budapest, when an associate is executed in broad daylight by bow and arrow. Such a death may put the reader off balance, but not Helena, and the plot proceeds in the usual Anna Porter fashion, offering sleuthing that is sophisticated, nervy and hardly ever on an even keel.” — Jack Batten, Toronto Star