Arriving from Paris in Boston’s Logan airport, Fred Taylor, agent for eccentric art collector Clayton Reed, unwittingly grabs a smuggled treasure flung into the air by a dying passenger.
Not until much too late does Fred understand that the treasure — a medieval work of art whose subject is Lazarus — is in his hands. And now he must undertake to discover the identity of the work, as well as of its smuggler and its rightful owner. At the same time (for word gets out, and fast) he must fend off the increasingly aggressive attentions of both institutional and private collectors—not least among them his own employer Clayton Reed.
Fred’s search leads to an encounter with the life work, and the sudden death, of the self-proclaimed subversive landscape artist Jacob Geist. During five days of golden autumn, the race to identify, and to account for the treasure, takes us back six hundred years, through the blood and torment of this century to the treasure’s origin during the Hundred Years War. Throughout we are haunted by the seductive sweetness of the prevailing genius of Jacob Geist.
As usual, Kilmer delights in skewering the pretensions of the art world while constructing a brain teaser.