Descartes Before the Course

The progress marker on my Kindle made me think I still had a long way to go before finishing the short story “Madonna and Corpse.” The plot reached a satisfying conclusion even though the device told me I was only 35% of the way through the file. I turned the electronic page to discover that the rest of the file contained a preview of the upcoming Body Farm novel, “The Inquisitor’s Key” by Jefferson Bass. It’s more than just a teaser. There’s a significant chunk of material. Six chapters are included. I read three or four before switching to the old-fashioned hardcover version.

Prior to each of my interviews with Jefferson and Bass, I received a review copy of the book they were promoting. This time, I got the book twelve days before its release date and five days before recording my interview with the authors. When I learned of the e-book prequel, I gladly paid the 99¢ to download it to my Kindle.

“Madonna and Corpse” tells the story of an art forger named Jacques Dubois, who is being investigated by Inspector René Descartes of the French National Police. Descartes turns up in “The Inquisitor’s Key” too, which is where mention is finally made of the name he shares with the famous philosopher. You don’t have to be an art history major to appreciate the motives behind the forger’s deceptions. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of how Dubois stripped away worthless old paintings to reuse ancient canvases for copies of masterpieces. There are clever plot twists about which paintings are real and which are fake.

Tickets are on sale for “The Inquisitor’s Key” book release event in Oak Ridge on May 8. I’m looking forward to serving as one of the emcees for the night.

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