An Annie Tillery Mystery

I really enjoy reading Linda Frank, while her intended audience is Young Adult I personally think the books are so well crafted that even us not so young adults can enjoy them.

There are three Annie Tillery Mystery books in print. She started with The Madonna Ghost, you can find my review here, and her third in the series is Secrets In The Fairy Chimneys, review here.

Girl With Pencil, Drawing was the second in the series. In some ways it is also my favorite. Possibly it is because of the subject matter, stolen and forged art work. This is an area that I have spent countless hours researching. The book is fiction, but in true Linda Frank fashion, there is a huge amount of factual content. This is learning without realizing you are learning!

Let us delve into the story, Annie is living with her aunt Jill in New York, with it being a school break, Annie is looking for some adventure. What could possibly could go wrong with her enrolling in a Saturday art class? What could be more harmless than learning to draw and paint? Oops, it turned out that art was even more mysterious than even Annie had imagined.

Her teacher is a young lady, Fransesca Gabrielli, while older than the 17 year old Annie, it is only by a few years. Annie arrives for her first art lesson and finds her new teacher being attacked. The man leaves, and the art lesson takes place. It transpires that the attacker was none other than the gallery’s director John DiCristani. Fransesca has two jobs, teaching art classes and also making copies of paintings. These are ‘reproductions’ she is assured, and sold as such. But are they? When DiCristani turns up dead, awkward questions need to be answered.

This is the lead in to a wonderful and splendidly constructed story of the murky world of art theft and forgery.

Sure I Know that some people will gripe at me for not sharing more of the plot, but it is not my style. Instead, I think we should discuss themes. Linda Frank spent her career as a science teacher both in High School and College. One particular course she developed was on the subject of Forensics. It was through this course that Annie Tillery came into being. Linda used Annie as a tool to add realism to course work.

What jumped out at me while reading Girl With Pencil, Drawing was the close attention paid to detail. No art forger with his or her salt forges a well known work, Trying to sell a copy of the Mona Lisa, would likely not get very far in the art world. Forgers tend to go for lesser known artists. A good forger does not copy, he creates a new as yet undiscovered work by an artist. The master forger will even go so far as to weave a fictitious provenance for the work.

Linda Frank touches on all of these subjects and much more. Although billed as a YA (Young Adult) book I think it has much broader appeal.

You can get your own copy of this very fine book by clicking the Amazon link above.

Simon Barrett

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