A BUTTERFLY IN FLAME by Nicholas Kilmer
Kilmer is a coup all in himself. He works the semi-cozy field--amateur detective, art background--but he writes like the cynical love child of Dashiell Hammett and Edgar Box. Annie Dillard says that if you're going to be a writer you have to love sentences. Nicholas Kilmer loves sentences. His are utterly distinctive: laconic hardboiled style and whiplash dialogue. If you're a writer or aspiring writer, you want to read this man for his style alone.
And, my, doesn't he know art. He's also a painter, a teacher, an art dealer; reading a Fred Taylor novel teaches you about art as reading a Lovejoy novel teaches you about antiques. There are seven Fred Taylor novels so far, and the best news is that the eighth, A PARADISE FOR FOOLS, comes out in September 2011.