Wednesday, 2 January 2002

Nora Roberts: Homeport (1998)

Edition: Piatkus, 1999 (Buy from Amazon)
Review number: 1023

The Jones family are an old established New England family, whose energies go into the Jones Art Institute foundation. They must be among the most dysfunctional families in literature, the novel's main character Miranda Jones spending a lot of time hoping she isn't turning into her cold and critical mother. When asked - ordered is perhaps more the word - to Florence to carry out a project in the laboratories her mother runs there, Miranda is terrified by the prospect of failure. She duly authenticates a bronze as fifteenth century (her speciality), only to be devastated when other testers declare it to be a recent fake.

At about the same time, another disaster strikes when a bronze David is stolen from the Institute gallery in the ancestral town of the family, Jones Point (where their house, Homeport, is). This, however, turns out to be a blessing in disguise when the thief returns - the David is also a fake that Miranda has authenticated. Miranda and the handsome burglar, Ryan Boldari, to whom she is strongly attracted, realise that someone has been swapping fakes for newly authenticated pieces - someone inside the Institute, on the right side of their security. The two of them resolve to prove what is going on, and so vindicate Miranda's reputation.

The background is fairly good, if not as convincing as that of Iain Pears' Jonathan Argyll novels - the policeman investigating the theft seems never to have heard of the idea of stealing to order, which is unlikely, to say the least. The tone of the novel is rather like Elizabeth Peters, though taking itself rather more seriously as a thriller. In Boldari, Roberts has created another hero very similar to Roarke, from the Eve Dallas novels she has written as J.D. Robb. Something else that Homeport shares with this series is poor quality proof reading.

The ingredients in this art world thriller may be hackneyed, but Roberts puts them together to create an enjoyable read.

No comments: