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Woman on Fire    by Lisa Barr order for
Woman on Fire
by Lisa Barr
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2022 (2022)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Lisa Barr's novel is an art thriller, centered on Expressionist artist Ernst Engel's brilliant piece, Woman on Fire, from which her title is derived. It was looted by the Nazis seventy-five years before, and Chicago investigative reporter Dan Mansfield is determined to find it. He's been given the task by an old friend and mentor, famed shoe designer Ellis Baum, who is dying. Ellis's mother was the artist's model - both artist and model killed by the Nazis.

The lead in the story is lovely young wannabe journalist, Jules Roth, who talks her way into working for Dan. The Prologue places her in great danger. She's kidnapped after attending powerful, controlling Margaux de Laurent's Gallery soiree. There, Margaux, the femme fatale (and criminal mastermind) of the piece, reveals a painting missing from her wealthy family's art collection 'for eight decades'. She's obsessed with it. Ellis's grandson Adam, a talented artist and recovering addict, is also involved in attempting to recover the painting and at the soiree - he has a dark history with Margaux.

The story then moves back in time to show what led to this point, with continuing twists and turns of its intricate plot. Romance develops between Jules and Adam. His series of paintings of Jules lead to her presence at the Gallery soiree, where his comeback is exhibited. A stream of violence runs through the story and steadily escalates. Finally, it's all up to Jules to win justice for past - and recent - betrayals and murders.

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