Touchstone, May 2004, 14.00, 284 pp.
Russian art expert His Highness Prince Alexander “Sasha” Ozerovsky learned about the art of his family's native country from his mother while growing up in New York. Currently he works at New York's premier small auction house, Leighton, hoping to find that rare item preferably a Faberge egg or at least a major Romanov piece.
Dimitri Durakov insists on meeting with the “Prince” because he claims to have a Faberge original that has ties to Sasha's family. As Sasha tries to authenticate the item that is either a brilliant find or an incredible fake, his family sues alleging ownership. Sasha's boss Dr. Anne Holton places him on a leave of absence to avoid any hint of conflict of interest while the courts resolve the legal issue. Sasha journeys to Russia to see more of this private collection not realizing that he will run afoul of the Russian mob when he begins to determine that some of the items are brilliant forgeries.
Though the details into the Faberge eggs and other Russian art are intriguing, entertaining and educational, this depth at times overwhelms the prime plot. Still OBJECT OF VIRTUE is an enjoyable art thriller that portrays a deep morality drama played on two stages. The key individuals such as the hero and his father struggle with personal desires vs. doing the right thing. On a greater scale they represent the country-wide trauma of the Old Russia and its heritage vs. the new Russia seeking a better place for its people. Insightful and well written, readers will appreciate this fine look at Russia through its art, past and present.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner