The Isabella Steward Gardener Museum in Boston is one of my absolute favorite museums. It has been ever since I was in grade school and went to the Isabella in winter and was surprised and delighted by the warmth, humidity, and vibrant green of the courtyard and fell in love with the collection.
Every visitor to the museum notices that there are several frames hanging on the wall that are empty. These used to contain works of art that were stolen in 1990 from the museum. A total of 13 pieces were taken and as far as the public knows, there are no leads.
In The Art Forger, BA Shapiro takes this very real premise and writes a fictional account of a struggling artist who is approached to paint a forgery of one of the paintings that was stolen from the museum. Claire Roth is an artist who makes reproductions of famous works to help pay her bills. An acquaintance brings her a painting to copy that he claims is one of the Degas works stolen from the museum. She is supposed to copy it exactly, but soon begins to think that the provenance of the painting is not as straightforward as it seemed at first.
The book is full of twists and turns and has a rather unexpected ending, but I think that anyone who has been to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum and wondered about where those works are now would enjoy this novel.