Geary, Joseph. Spiral. Pantheon. June 2003. c368p. ISBN 0-375-42223-4. $24.95. Fiction.

This is an intricate and cleverly plotted descent into the nether regions of the art world of the 1950s and 1960s, a story in which the words mercury, tattoo, syphilis, Incarnation, and coiled spiral are clues to a series of bizarre paintings and disturbing events in the life of a deceased painter named Frank Spira. His biographer, Nick Greer, is about to go over the proofs of his long-awaited book when he learns that two of Spira’s lovers, Jacob Grossman and Tony Reardon, supposedly dead for 26 years, have turned up alive. Nick interviews Grossman, a paranoid wretch who thinks that Nick has tracked him down to find Incarnation, rumored to be Spira’s greatest painting but thought to have been destroyed by the artist in Tangier in 1957. When Grossman’s mutilated body is found the next day, Nick becomes a suspect, and he realizes that he needs to know what happened in Tangier, a search that turns into a dangerous obsession as he confronts an equally obsessed anonymous art collector. This well-crafted literary thriller is recommended for larger public libraries. [Although the publisher calls this a debut, Geary has also co-written four thrillers under the pseudonym Patrick Lynch.]

LJ, 128, no. 10 (June 1, 2003), 165-166.

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