Nicholas Kilmer's Harmony in Flesh and Black exposes a dep knowledge of the sometimes tricky and treacherous haut monde of art dealers, collectors, and curators. Smartly tailored, well-to-do Beacon Hill collector Clayton Reed has habits so refined that he doesn't even venture out to pick up his own acquisitions. He leaves that sort of work to Fred Taylor, a veteran of clandestine action in Southeast Asia who is presently working as Reed's factotum. A passionate noncollector, Fred researches possible purchases and fights for them at auction--but he is really more interested in his blossoming relationship with Molly Riley, an independent-minded Cambridge librarian.
In this series debut, Reed suspects that there may be a Vermeer painting worth millions lying underneath the oils of an unexciting nineteenth-century landscape. Tension mounts as he and Fred try to keep the vultures away nd their hunch to themselves before auction. Meanwhile, Reed buys an unsigned nude smacking of 1890s Paris--it could be a Whistler, something he might have titled Harmony in Flesh and Black--from a down-and-out porno photographer who is soon afterward found murdered on the floor of his filthy studio. Their success depends on keeping a low profile, but now Clayton and Fred are in danger of being implicated in a very sleazy crime--which may at best jeopardize their plans to get the Vermeer, and at worst put their lives in danger.