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Best known for his Hoke Moseley novels, Willeford was also a painter. Here he brings the art world to a crime novel and renders a work that is sort of Crime and Punishment as rewritten by James M. Cain and Tom Wolfe.

James Figueras is a low rent art critic. He's wangled a posting to Palm Beach but he's saddled with dim prospects and an annoying girlfriend, Berenice Hollis. He's on the lookout for his one big break and it comes when he receives information that one of the most influential, but enigmatic, artists of the Twentieth Century has moved to Florida.  A big collector offers to tell him where to find the artist, Jacques Debierue, if he'll steal one of the artist's works in exchange for the information.

In addition to a deftly rendered crime novel, Willeford proceeds to treat us to a devastatingly funny send up of Modern Art and the pseudo-intellectual theories that spawned it.

A hoot.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Book-related and General Links:
    -Charles Willeford: One of the Great Ones (Jesse Sublett, Weekly Wire)
    -ESSAY: Literary Lives: The Unlikely Father of Miami Crime Fiction Charles Willeford -- offbeat, funny, and macabre (Marshall Jon Fisher, The Atlantic)
    -ESSAY: The Mysterious Romance of Murder: The enduring highbrow fascination with detective stories (David Lehman, Boston Review)

If you liked The Burnt Orange Heresy, try:

Wolfe, Tom
    -From Bauhaus to Our House  (read Orrin's review)