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.
About the author
Anna Porter was born in Budapest, Hungary, during the Second World War and escaped with her mother at the end of the 1956 revolution to New Zealand, where she graduated with an MA from Christchurch University. Like so many young Kiwis, after graduation she travelled to London, England, where she had her first taste of publishing. In 1968, she arrived in Canada, and was soon swept up in the cultural explosion of the 1970s. At McClelland & Stewart, run by the flamboyant Jack McClelland, she quickly found herself at the heart of Canadian publishing. In 1982, she founded Key Porter Books and published such national figures as Farley Mowat, Jean Chrétien, Conrad Black, and Allan Fotheringham. She went on to write both fiction and nonfiction works, including Kasztner’s Train, which won the Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and the Jewish Book Award, The Ghosts of Europe, which won the Shaughnessey Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and has published four mystery novels. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of Ontario. She lives in Toronto with her husband, Julian Porter. Visit her at AnnaPorter.ca.
Excerpt: Deceptions: A Helena Marsh Novel (by (author) Anna Porter)
She sensed him before she saw him. The smell of wet wool and cigarettes. He approached cautiously on rubber soles, a little breathless, as he entered the salon and stopped a foot or so inside the door. She slipped the thin long-bladed knife from her sleeve, stretched her fingers over the handle and waited a moment – it was, she knew, a crucial moment because sometimes a moment would be too long – but this was Paris, not Moscow, not Bratislava and she was not working on a dangerous case. She glanced up at the large, burly figure. “Helena,” he said with a note of anxiety in his voice. The pedicurist, massaging Helena’s instep, may not have seen the knife, but he had. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Do I seem scared?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “Do I?”
She noted his badly shaven face, his pale eyes still fixed on her sleeve, his burgeoning belly stretching the grey woolen sweater over his corduroy pants. “Put on a little weight,” she said with a smile.
“All that rakott krumpli,” he said, “but I will lose it on delicate French food and wine.” He spoke English with a soft Hungarian accent, pressure on the endings, but a great deal better than the last time she saw him. Must have been taking lessons. A pity, she thought. She had liked his accent first, even before she began to like him.
“Porter takes readers on an exhilarating ride.” — Publishers Weekly
“The plot proceeds in the usual Anna Porter fashion, offering sleuthing that is sophisticated, nervy and hardly ever on an even keel.” — Toronto Star
“Intricate and atmospheric … Porter’s plots are a deft and entertaining blend of caper, crime, and thriller elements, but it's this context as well as their setting — primarily Hungary, a place where, as one observer remarks, ‘the present was so deeply rooted in the past, it was not even the past’ — that gives them their rich texture and unexpected depth.” — Canadian Notes & Queries
Other titles by Anna Porter
In Other Words
How I Fell in Love with Canada One Book at a Time
The Look Book
Fall 2018 Sampler
Buying a Better World
George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy
Ghosts of Europe
Journeys through Central Europe's Troubled Past and Uncertain Future
The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust
Memory, Secrets, Magic and Lies