Molly Greene's spunky amateur private eye Gen Delacourt is back in her third outing, and this time a new mystery takes her into the complicated world of art. In Paint Me Gone, Gen's latest client enlists her to find a long lost sister - a sister thought to have committed suicide two decades earlier. Tied to the murder of a stranger, Sophie Keene's sister Shannon left the world she knew with only a tragic final note in her wake, but when an unsigned painting lands in Sophie's lap that bears a mysterious resemblance to her lost sister her hope - dormant for twenty years - is rekindled. Armed with only the painting as an uncooperative clue, Gen finds herself on the case with her trusted friend and neighbor, flamboyant and delightful Oliver Weston, as her unofficial partner-in-crime-solving. Also on her resource list is San Francisco detective Mackenzie “Mack” Hackett, the charming cop with whom Gen shares a complicated romantic spark. As she works her way through the nitty-gritty of the art world, Gen will sidestep dangerous dealers and broken-hearted exes, uncovering a web of secrets, lies, and surprises that could cost her more than she bargained for. With her third novel, Molly Greene continues to layer on the charm and ramp up the mystery. At times Paint Me Gone is impossible to put down, so enmeshed is the reader not only in a wonderfully inscrutable mystery but also in a colorful world made bright with memorable characters. All of Greene’s creations - from the new characters to the returning - become instantly familiar, drawing the reader even more deeply into the story. Greene has a decided knack for creating snappy dialogue, rendering heartwarming characters, and tying it all together with a well-imagined, smartly paced mystery; her talents have continued to grow throughout the Gen Delacourt mysteries, and Paint Me Gone might be her best story yet.
As a heroine Gen is in many ways a reader’s dream-come-true: she’s plucky, resourceful, and vivacious, with the smarts to back up her instincts and a well-developed sense of adventure (not to mention a sense of humor). She’s a delight to see brought back to life with every story, and she takes on a decidedly fuller role in Paint Me Gone as the novel’s primary focus. Although the many wonderful female characters who played central parts in Greene’s past stories - Mark of the Loon's Madison and Rapunzel's Cambria - are not to be forgotten, it’s great to see Gen holding her own at the center of this third adventure. Her complicated relationship with Mack offers some sweet insight into Gen’s more vulnerable side, allowing Greene to illustrate all the facets that make her such a great character and allowing us as readers to appreciate her even more. Meanwhile, the playful and heartwarming friendship between Gen and Oliver lights up every scene they share; their easy camaraderie has a way of enfolding the reader into their circle, making us feel like we’re truly along for the adventure. The adventure in question is perhaps the most intricate mystery Greene has crafted so far. Through her research she brings to life the nuances of the art world in just enough detail to engage her readers on a deep level without making us feel as though we’re in over our heads with information. Finding that balance isn't always easy, but Greene hits all the right notes with Paint Me Gone; with its charming cast and engaging mystery, it keeps the reader guessing and having fun through every page.