The young woman in the hair salon raises her shirt in a furtive gesture, frank and tantalizingly brief, to show a friend the work in progress – a riot of stunning tattoos. From his accidental vantage point in the barber’s chair, Fred Taylor knows that those weird insects, beasts and naked human figures could only come from something nice—a painting that, if he could only see it in the flesh, might prove to be rare, and of significant value. The girls don’t have a clue.
Such a painting needs to be understood and identified. But before that can happen it must be found. Fred’s inquiries lead from the hairdresser 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 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 being distracted by his first meetings with the intriguing librarian Molly Riley. Not wanting to spook his unwilling witnesses, Fred must proceed with caution even after he encounters the first serious bump in the road – a suspiciously convenient hit-and-run that turns one potential informant into an abrupt dead end.
A Paradise for Fools
is the eighth art mystery starring Fred Taylor.