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By Aaron Elkins
Avon Books, 1999
Reviewed by S. E. Warwick
Those darn Nazis. Just when you hope you've heard the last of them, another spore of their evil fungus festers. LOOT provides a look at the post cold war realities of Europe with those spores turning up in the oddest places.
Aaron Elkins, whose Gideon Oliver series never fails to enchant, has reverted to his artsy side. A rudderless art historian (it's nice to know the ubiquitous art history degree can be used to find employment) Ben Revere, gets a call from a friend who owns a pawnshop in a less than upscale part of Boston. Simeon, the pawnbroker, a Russian émigré, thinks someone has sold him a valuable Velasquez.
A customs consultant, Ben knows all too well how easily fraudulent copies can be "aged." He is skeptical, but goes nonetheless because he's not doing anything more important than listening to a ball game. Before the evening is out, Simeon is murdered and Ben is beaten within an inch of his life.
Ben's indifference to life is replaced by a need to avenge Simeon's death and find out just what the painting is and where it came from.
His research takes Ben from Boston to the magical city of St. Petersburg, Russia, then to Vienna for an assignation with a puzzling count whose story changes faster than the weather.
LOOT is an action thriller/mystery. The characters and premise are believable, the plot fast paced.
Other titles by this author, in the Gideon Oliver series include FELLOWSHIP OF FEAR, THE DARK PLACE, MURDER IN THE QUEEN'S ARMES, OLD BONES, CURSES, ICY CLUTCHES, MAKE NO BONES, DEAD MEN'S HEARTS, and TWENTY BLUE DEVILS.
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