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The Perfect Fake    by Barbara Parker order for
Perfect Fake
by Barbara Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Tom Fairchild has had some tough times. As a bad-luck ex-con with a short list of nonviolent crimes on his record, Fairchild has been trying to rebuild his life. Now, with hopes of becoming a successful freelance graphic designer, he has been working with his sister at her antique maps and prints business. Then, as the action of The Perfect Fake begins, a strange series of not-so-coincidental events draws Fairchild into a very dangerous adventure that threatens to destroy his dreams of a crime-free, carefree life.

First, a roommate of one of Fairchild's friends disappears without a trace. Shortly after the woman's mysterious disappearance, a prominent antique map collector is murdered, and a very expensive, borrowed map that he had been clutching at the time of his death is virtually destroyed with bullet holes and blood; when the police begin making their inquiries, Fairchild's friend - already concerned about her missing roommate - suddenly becomes an uncomfortable person of interest because of her relationship with the murdered collector. At the same time, Fairchild's meddlesome, over-zealous probation officer is making his life miserable, and Fairchild's financial problems continue to complicate his tenuous day-to-day existence. Then the actual owner of the damaged sixteenth century map - a millionaire with very important (and mysterious) connections and background - summons Fairchild and makes a challenging and lucrative proposition: make a perfect copy of the blood-soaked map.

Against the advice of his sister and his friends, Fairchild cautiously agrees to apply his considerable artistic skills to the daunting and illegal task of producing what he soon realizes will amount to an illicit forgery of the rare 500-year old map. Then, when the millionaire's daughter becomes involved in the caper (and once again involved with Fairchild, the man with whom she had been intimate a dozen years earlier), and when others also become involved in the adventure - including a ruthless murderer, a rogue government agent, and a dangerous collection of duplicitous ne'er-do-wells - Fairchild begins to slowly realize that both he and the millionaire's daughter have become involved in more trouble than they can handle, and they can trust absolutely no one.

Following a murderous trail of international intrigue from Miami to London, and going on to the Italian Alps, The Perfect Fake is overflowing with more twists-and-turns than an Alpine highway. Surprising, exciting, literate, atmospheric, and provocative, author Barbara Parker's latest top-drawer entertainment confirms her place among the top writers of suspense-filled thrillers.

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