It should be easy to return a twice-stolen masterpiece – stolen once from a Jewish family by the Nazis and a second time from the Nazi’s by an American soldier at the end of World War II – to the surviving members of that Jewish family, right? Not as easy as you might think. Gregory C. Randall has written a tightly woven tale of an aging man’s attempt to return something he removed from a Nazi cache of stolen objects. What he did not count on was a fanatical group of Nazis from Argentina.
Sharon O’Mara is the smart and gutsy private detective from the East Bay suburb of Walnut Creek who is hired by Alain Dumont, a wealthy San Franciscan, to arrange the return of a Toulouse Lautrec painting to the remaining members of the family that had owned it until the rise of the Third Reich. The setting for this story carries O’Mara, and the reader, throughout the greater Bay Area and farther, to Southern California where the rightful heirs to the painting live, to Europe and all points beyond.
How did Dumont come by the painting? Why would a seemingly inert sect of Nazi hangers-on come all the way to California to thwart its return? Or is the sect really as far away as Argentina? What is their connection to the Napa Valley? Is it the painting they really want? What else did Dumont bring back with him to the States when the war ended? Who is Dumont and did he act alone?
Randall has not written a thriller that takes it time to get going. He moves his characters, there is a core cast that starts small and grows incrementally, with such speed and deftness that the book can be read in one sitting. His chase scenes are incredible with a Paris bicycle chase being one of the best in the book. Who would have thought you’d be holding onto your breath as tightly as O’Mara holds onto the handlebars?
For those readers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sharon O’Mara’s neighborhood, and that of Kevin Bryan, her sometimes back up and a Lafayette detective, will be as familiar as a ride on BART. For those of you who still wonder what happened to all the art stolen by the Nazis, Toulouse 4 Death will not disappoint.
Toulouse 4 Death is the first opportunity BWS has had to recommend a book that can only be purchased on Amazon. Windsor Hill Publishing is a small press out of Walnut Creek. At the moment it is only publishing Randall’s titles, but I liked the product; not just the story, but the book itself. The print is easy on the eyes and the graphics at each new chapter add a neat touch. This reader is looking forward to what Windsor Hill publishes next. -ss