The Case of the Purloined Painting
A man walks into the office of PI Sean Sean and hands him a number of Benjamin Franklins to find a missing woman that he was supposed to meet. Each time they were to have their special encounter she would be there except this one time when she never showed. Why would he pay money to a PI to find her and what was his motive? A woman named Anne/Ann enters the same office of Sean Sean, and wants him to find out why a man named Manfred Gottlieb was pushed off a bridge and killed. She witnessed the murder but would not come forward and she had a brief sketch in her mind of what the killers looked like but not much else to go on. Another coincidence or how were these two incidents related? Next we meet Aaron Gottlieb the grandson of the man killed who wants answers to his grandfather’s murder. Two separate cases. Two clients who paid in Benjamin Franklins but refused to come forward or be involved in either case.
World War II brought man soldiers home needing money and a place to work. When a specific unit in the army came home at the end of the war many of the soldiers had taken things from the abandoned homes in order to get money. One young man found a painting by a Polish painter named Abraham Neumann. Al Mutchison donated the painting to the Institute. This soldier took this painting to a bank and convinced the bank’s president to float him a loan in order to purchase a manufacturing company. But, where is the painting now and what does this have to do with the murder and the missing woman? Minneapolis is a small town where just about everyone knows everyone and when this woman named Anne/Ann enters the office of Sean Sean she brings him some papers from a ledger that might answer some of the questions as to why Gottlieb was murdered but not all? What happens when the painting surfaces in a place you won’t expect? What happens when Sean Sean starts to investigate with the help of his girlfriend who is computer savvy, Catherine McKerney? Bullets begin to fly when he gets too close. Someone bangs into his car leaving him no choice but to take him down. With the feeling that he’s being followed and the assistance of a police sergeant, added in his two favorite hackers, can he solve the case, link all of the players before someone takes him for a permanent ride six feet below?
There are many people who lost everything in the war and as Manfred Gottlieb was released from a concentration camp and returned home to total destruction. As the cases start to blend and the inquiries about the missing woman are answered we learn that the missing woman that the man hopes to find is none other than the woman who witnessed the murder of Gottlieb. Her name Tiffany Market. Instead of going to the police she provides a ledge in many different languages that when translated might hold the key to more than just the murder but the theft of a painting and where it wound up. Families that lost it all wanted money or to find ways at repatriation of their stolen art in this case. But who are the people that are linked to the war and who are behind it all?
A powerful family named Mutchinson holds the key to where it all began. The two cases seem to blend and the players not forthcoming with all of the information, as the missing girlfriend Tiffany Market is really the woman who brought him the second case. Wanting the police to find the killers she calls Sean is ‘Cutout” or the man she would deal with in order to stay out of the way of the police or dealing with them.
The painting in question was recently donated to a museum and the death of this man could it be linked. The Mutchinson family is powerful and the end result will take down more than just the killers. Gehrz is the man who hires him to find Tiffany Market. With the help of a friend he manages to get a picture of this woman but someone wants Sean out of the picture and shots fly and someone is hurt but before all is said and done a painting hanging on the wall of a bank will cause one bank president to face his past, admit the truth behind the theft of this purloined painting.
There is a third player in this interesting plot. Derrol Madison calls on our Private Investigator and requests a meeting but in private. Unable to walk and bound in a wheelchair Derrol Madison asks Sean to take on Manfred’s grandnephew as a client to find what happened to his Uncle. Aaron Gottlieb the nephew wants answers and fast. But, cases like this take time and the evidence is scarce until Sean puts it all together and realizes what he has missed and hopefully is not too late. But, the bodies are piling up and the questions are adding up as his two-hacker neighbors, his pal in the police department and his girlfriend race the clock to stop a killer. But, someone wants him out of the way and will stop at nothing to eliminate Sean. He’s smart, outspoken and definitely quite creative when meeting with many people, handing them his business cards and smart enough to skirt around the issues in a such a way to peek their interest, pretend to have some incorrect facts and hopefully get the answers he needs. With the first case dating back to the close of WWII and the stolen art could this be the reason for the murders?
Added in we have a young girl that is staying in Manfred’s house. Ursula Skranslund, a Finnish graduate student. Next an organization called Atria, the painting itself, the truck that tried to kill Sean, a member of the Justice Department that warned him to be careful, his friend Detective Ricardo and finally Manfred himself.
Family trees and research can be enlightening as Sean learns more about the Murchison’s who lived in Minneapolis. Albert Murchison is a powerful man in manufacturing and sits on two boards. Could he be the soldier who started it all? A painting worth money at the time but who owns it? How would they find of get the legitimacy of ownership? The research took Sean to the library and to a small town in Poland. Learning about the history of the Gottleib family, more pages from the ledger, learning about what taken form these homes and the conversation with Madison the lawyer, all of the pieces started to fig as we learn more about the stolen items from occupied countries in WWII.
A painting whose ownership was still in question and a powerful family that would do anything to get it back/ A little brown ledger that might reveal it all? Who confiscated it and who would be implicated in the murder and theft?
When the painting was donated to the MIA without the correct paperwork of provenance, the MIA officials started a search for the real owner and this set off a chain of events that led to the death of Manfred Gottlieb. But, was the painting the reason or was it something else? If so what was the real motive for his murder? What might be revealed if he was not stopped? Atria was Madison’s organization. Did the Manny have information that could would lead back to the SS theft of the art works in Poland? What if that ledger was found and authenticated in its entirety?
An ending quite explosive and a family torn apart as we learn who was responsible for five deaths, why before the final shots are fired. Sean Sean: one detective you want on your side whose way of solving a case might be unorthodox, clever, creative and quite unique. This is one detective I know we have not heard the last of. A case that could have been ripped right out of the headlines author Carl Brookins reminds us of what so many endured at the hands of so many who were evil.
Fran Lewis: reviewer.