Thief’s Mark: Carla Neggers
Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan finally tied the knot but as things go with these two FBI Agents there can never be a dull moment or a lull in their caseload for very long. On the last day of their honeymoon Emma decides to visit her grandfather, private art detective Wendell Sharpe. Here is where the adventure begins as his home is broken into and all signs point to the famous art thief that plagued him for years, Oliver York. An expert in Celtic mythology and of course what he is noted for an outstanding international art thief whose skill at stealing paintings and other works of art has brought him world fame yet never getting caught. Instead of hightailing it back to work and their elite FBI team in London they decide to go straight to Oliver’s home since for some reason someone has been killed and the man that is found dead was left on Oliver’s doorstep. But, after trying to help the man for some reason Oliver disappears. Witnesses questioned yet no one saw what happened to this man and although Oliver tried to stop his bleeding and hoped to save his life, it was too late but something later on when the man is identified would bring back memories of what happened to him as a child. Oliver lives in a small village in Ireland, and Scotland and in the U.S. but Emma and Colin feel bound to try and find out who killed this man, why and what link is there to Oliver? Kidnapped as a child and held in a deserted Scottish ruin, escaping and the kidnappers losing the ransom, does this incident or murder revert back to that and is the man that is dead one of the two that tormented him as a child. Harriet Belfour is the new gardener hired by the head custodian or the person who promised Oliver’s parents before they were killed to look after him and his house, Martin. Although she is ex M 15 her demeanor when questioned seems too ambivalent, too controlled and it seems that gardening and landscaping might be a front for something else. Questioned by Colin she seemed too drawn to him and when Emma decides to intervene answers still seem vague and her attitude like she’s doing them a favor. Ruthie the housekeeper alerted them to the fact that there was a man who was seriously injured but as we hear more from Colin, Emma and the Inspector on the case we learn the real name of the man, who he might be and why Oliver disappeared as he might have been one of the two captors when he was a child.
Father Bracken is friends with Colin and took on the priesthood after dealing with the death of his family and getting sober. Going to the place next door to Wendell’s Art Recovery business he thinks he is going to see the same man, yet he does not know it that was found dead on Oliver’s doorstep. This man confessed to him for his past deeds but was one of them the murder of Oliver’s parents?
As events become more complicated we meet Oliver and Wendell as they discuss his past, where Wendell was when his parents were killed and information comes out leading the reader to wonder what is true and what is false. While Colin, Emma, Henrietta, Cassie and Eugene have dinner at the pup you can tell there is a strain when looking at Eugene since Oliver’s parents were close to both him and Cassie. But, just what role does Henrietta really play and is she just a Gardner or is she still M 15 undercover like Oliver?
The author describes the cold rain, the damp weather as it adds to the plot letting readers know that not only does the murder give the reader chills and pause for thought but the weather does too. Emma and Colin were asked to get involved in the investigation but Inspector DI Lowe is unhappy with it as they learn that Colin’s mother and Franny who both overheard Father Bracken talking to the late Davy Driscoll before he died. When questioned he refuses to answer because a priest cannot divulge what a parishioner confesses during a confession.
When Wendell Sharpe and Oliver York connect the conversation reverts back to the past and Wendell convinces him to turn himself into the Guardia namely Sean Murphy which he does. The scene comes back to Colin and M15 agent Jamison who seems bent on turning the investigation in another direction wanting to know why Davy Driscoll was in Heron’s Cove, England and then finding himself on Oliver’s doorstep with his dying words warning him but of what? Emma and Colin both seem bent on trying to come to terms with what happens as Cassie becomes frightened, calls Henrietta and what they discover in the barn will change it all as once again the police are called and so is Eugene. Hearing Nigel, Ruthie Burns’ son talk about his mother you realize that she is very organized and rigid in her daily routines and habits and does not like changes. But, things take on another turn before Oliver turns himself in he reaches out to painter and artist Aoife and speaks about his talk with Father Bracken and her relationship with the priest.
Things begin to slowly fall into place as Oliver and Henrietta try to piece together what he wants to remember about his parent’s death and who might have killed them and why. As the truth behind what happened to Davy Driscoll comes to light and how he became Reed Warren and why he really came to Oliver’s door the author enlightens us about the other man responsible for killing Oliver’s parents. But, there are lies, cover-ups, deceits, betrayals and Finian cannot tell it all when FBI agent Prackett questions him repeatedly until he finally relents but what he reveals you won’t believe.
Oliver’s mother loved painting but she wanted it kept secret and there were several who harbored her paintings, her work and made sure they were never found until something changed that.
Martin Hambly is Oliver’s assistant and was enlisted to watch over him by his late parents. He oversees the entire staff. Henrietta Balfour is supposed to supervise farm improvements but there is an underlying something that the reader will learn as she was M15 and is seems she still might be.
Finian was questioned by Padgett and was holding back until he reveals a photograph that would change it all. The picture reveals the Balfour family, but something about it sets them off on the trail for the truth behind what happened to Driscoll and where was his partner Bart Norcross? Reed Warren never admitted to being Davy Driscoll or killing the Yorks even when confessing to the Priest. He revealed that he knew something, a secret that tortured him and he revealed that he did something as a young child. Inquiring about Oliver York and his relationship to Colin and Emma and the Sharpes, mainly Emma and Wendell. The story goes from the past or maybe it was made up that both Davy Driscoll and Bart Norcross chose the ruin where they took Oliver at random while on the run from a robbery they committed in London that went wrong. It was assumed as we learn that both of them didn’t realize the Yorks were home when they broke into their apartment and Deborah York recognized them and she and her husband were shot and Oliver kidnapped.
Why did Davy Driscoll show up in Heron’s Cove and then in Rock Point? Oliver was plagued with this question and nightmares not remembering what happened when his parents were killed and thinking it was his fault in some way.
When a startling revelation is revealed and someone hiding in plain sight is uncovered just who killer Oliver’s parents and Davy Driscoll will become crystal clear and the motive you just won’t believe. Murders, kidnapping, Scotland, a photograph and the break into Wendell’s home why? Family relationships are strained, a hidden truth comes out, just who took the chisel from Oliver’s studio and killed Davy Driscoll? Cassie learns something about Eugene but did he kill anyone? Is Henrietta M15? What about Oliver? Who figured it all out? What was the prime motive and what about Oliver’s days as a thief, art collector, mythology expert and more? Where will he take life next and what about Martin? Only author Carla Neggers can take readers into the ruin, down by the dovecote, inside Oliver’s home and in the mind of a killer so deranged and so diabolical you won’t see him hiding in plain sight. What about Finian and Aoife will they get together again? What about the paintings that were stolen and whose painted the pictures in question that were found? An ending that makes readers wonder what is next for Colin and Emma and the FBI and M15 because within this novel there are many who have created along with Oliver a Thief’s Mark of their own.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine