The Collector by Anne-Laure Thiéblemont (Marion Spicer Art Mysteries #1)

I picked up The Collector by Anne-Laure Thiéblemont because the blurb mentioned it is a thriller set in the art world, which is a sub-genre I enjoy reading every now and then. This world is full of shady ‘experts’ who steal, plunder and sometimes even kill others to get their greedy little hands on valuable artifacts, so I knew I would encounter some very interesting characters in this book.

Marion Spicer is an investigator at Search Art, a company specializing in retrieving stolen art. Her work is not as glamorous as it sounds, as most of the times her job entails contacting various auction houses in order to put a stop to the auctioning of stolen works of art.

She is good at her job, however, and the paychecks can afford her to live a nice and sheltered life. She has one very good friend, Chris, who will turn out to play a crucial part in her impeding adventures.

Marion has just found out that the father, whom she though to have died in a car accident when she was only 3 years old, had in fact not only survived, but also created a new life for himself, becoming none other than the prestigious Edmond Magni, well known in the world of art through his exquisite collection of unique and famous pieces which made him the rich man he was before he died.

And now Marion not only found and lost her only father again, but also learned that she has inherited his sought after impressive collection of art. But before she can accept said inheritance, she needs to fulfill a condition her father left for her in his will.

She has to find 3 missing sculptures and bring them back to his collection, a task which could prove not only tiresome and time consuming, but also dangerous for her own life.

Reluctant at first, but also intrigued, Marion takes on her father’s last wish, not realizing that it will take her to a world she only scratched its surface until now. Because the world of art is ruthless, with dangerous people who would do anything to stop her from getting those sculptures back.

The Collector is a fun read, the writing flows smoothly thanks to the French translator Sophie Weinter (who also translated the Consortium series by David Khara). The main characters – while not quite well fleshed out – do have a presence which makes you take notice. Chris is an interesting guy. He is Marion’s best friend who often comes at the problem at hand from an entirely different angle, giving her other options for a way out, that might not have been visible initially.

Marion herself is a pleasant person who while kind of a loner, is not a stereotypical character. She does have an active life, a modern wardrobe and men in her life that come and go.

The story is rather short, but fast paced, which makes for a quick and fun leisure time reading. The red herrings and constant twists and turns make you forget about the time, and before you know it, the book is finished. A bit abruptly, though, which makes me think that the author did intend to write a sequel to the Marion Spicer series.

A quick check revealed that indeed there is a second book written in French, which will hopefully be translated into English soon. Sadly the author passed away unexpectedly this October, so there will be no further books in the series except for these two.

I am sad to hear about the author’s passing, and my thoughts and best wishes are with the family in these hard times.

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