The young woman in the hair salon raises her shirt in a brief gesture to show a friend a work in progress—a riot of stunning tattoos. From his accidental vantage point in the barber’s chair, Fred Taylor knows that those images—weird insects, beasts, and naked human figures—could only come from something amazing: a hitherto unknown painting of rare and significant value. And the girls don’t have a clue.
Fred knows such a painting needs to be found. His inquiries lead him from the salon to the illegal tattoo parlor of an unlicensed genius. Fred is met everywhere by ignorance and denial. Anyone who must have seen the painting denies that it exists, despite the vivid proof increasingly laid bare on the canvas of the hairdresser’s skin.
Fred’s employer, the collector Clayton Reed, is out of the country. So Fred, left to his own devices, is free to follow the trail, despite the distractions presented by the intriguing librarian Molly Riley. Not wanting to spook his unwilling witnesses, Fred must proceed with caution. Then he encounters the first serious bump in the road: a suspiciously convenient hit-and-run that brings one potential informant into an abrupt dead end.
Can a painting be worth a murder?