The Botticelli Caper
November 10, 2020
The Botticelli Caper (Wings ePress, 2019) is set at the Uffizi Galleries during a period, not long ago, when workmen were constantly coming in and out during massive amounts of reconstruction. Flora, an art conservator, is working to clean Sondro Botticelli’s world-famous Birth of Venus. She realizes that there are no notes from the previous cleaning and begins to get suspicious as she removes the frame and looks at the paint’s sheen. Then she sees a smiley-face. She’d seen it before in a forgery of another famous painting. In this light-hearted caper, Wisseman asks how some very skilled painter could make a nearly perfect copy of one of the world’s great paintings. But, how would the original have been removed from the museum with guards all around, night and day? Now a few more forgeries are discovered along with two bodies. Against the advice of all, Flora continues to meander through the beautiful old building, wondering where the original copies might be stored. What about all the doors, the unused corridors, the bridge and tunnel that lead to other palaces? Sadly, the real-life incidents of art forgery and theft have sometimes been even stranger, but there was no Flora Garibaldi to solve those crimes.
Retired archaeologist Sarah Wisseman (aka Sally Underhill) completed her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and her M.A. and Ph. D in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College. During her years working as an Archaeological scientist at the University of Illinois, she wrote non-fiction books and numerous articles on mummies, Greek vases, and archaeological science. Nowadays, Sarah splits her time between writing and painting. Starting in 2004, when she was a finalist for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel in the St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic Contest, she has based her fiction on thirty years of working in academia, museums, and on excavations in Italy, Israel, and the U.S. She writes two series, the Lisa Donahue Archaeological Mysteries (set in Boston and the Middle East) and the Flora Garibaldi Art Conservation Mysteries (set in Italy). Her paintings include mixed media landscapes, starscapes, and still lifes.