Title: A Back Room in Somers Town
Author: John Malcolm
Publisher: Felony and Mayhem, 2007 (Originally published 1984)
Paperback, 214 pages
Genre: Amateur Sleuth, #1 Tim Simpson Art mystery
Source: Paperback Swap
First Line: Quite often, when the rain comes slanting out of the grey London sky, drenching the trees in Hyde park outside my office window, I think of a back room, another back room, in São Paulo, where the slatted bright stripes of sunlight fell across the rumpled bedclothes and warm skin, like a painting by Bernard Dunstan.
John Malcolm is an acknowledged expert in the field of art and antiques, and each book in his series of mysteries featuring Tim Simpson centers on a specific (real) work of art.
In this first book in the series, Simpson has been hired by a London merchant bank to buy art to bolster the investment portfolios of its extremely wealthy clients. The first painting he sees won't make anyone rich, but for some reason within hours of viewing this painting, the artwork is stolen and the dealer is killed. Simpson is intrigued and does a little poking around, but he's no sleuth and soon gives up. It's not until he goes to Brazil on unrelated business that he finds out what happened in that back room in Somers Town.
Sometimes timing is all in reading. A book that doesn't capture your attention when you're distracted or not feeling well may leave you enraptured if you read it at another time. I just couldn't sink into this book. As you can tell by the first sentence that I shared above, Malcolm's style in this first book is a bit meandering. Due to my health, I found myself nodding off, dropping the book, waking up, finding my place, starting over, nodding off.... Sadly, I just couldn't get my mind into it and couldn't finish it.
Don't let my feeble-mindedness put you off if you're in the mood for a mystery set in the art world. Your timing can definitely be better than mine!