A cache of old erotic paintings is purchased clandestinely at a benefit seaside auction, under the noses of competing dealers and of Westport, Massachusetts, would-be high society. When word gets out that these pictures may illuminate the dark side of a major artist, Boston collector Clayton Reed and his agent Fred Taylor must provide a cloak of respectability for the collection and then def it from the increasingly violent enthusiasm of others who suspect its value only after the sale.
How did the late Lord Hanford come to have such pictures? What of his sudden death? What about that young and lovely American widow? As the nature of the collection is revealed, so too its dubious history which leads from murder and double-dealing in the margins of the Boston and London art world, back through time until a shocking crime of Victorian prudery is laid bare. Fred Taylor embarks on his most complex, literate, and page-turning mystery to date.