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Thursday, June 18, 2020

False Light: An Art History Mystery by Claudia Riess - Book Tour - Book Sale - Book Trailer - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hello, lovelies!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Claudia Riess and her new book, “False Light: An Art History Mystery”!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Claudia and to increase your chances of winning!

This eBook is on SALE during the book tour for ONLY $0.99!!!  See below for more details.

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this fabulous giveaway!

False Light: An Art History Mystery
by Claudia Riess


GENRE: Mystery



Academic sleuths Erika Shawn, art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, a more seasoned art history professor, set out to tackle a brain teaser.  This time the couple—married since their encounter in Stolen Light, first in the series—attempt to crack the long un-deciphered code of art forger Eric Hebborn (1934-1996), which promises to reveal the whereabouts of a number of his brilliant Old Master counterfeits.  (Hebborn, in real life, was a mischievous sort, who had a fascination with letters and a love-hate relationship with art authenticators.  I felt compelled to devise a puzzler on his behalf!)  After publication of his memoir, Drawn to Trouble, published in 1991, he encrypts two copies with clues to the treasure hunt.  On each of the title pages, he pens a tantalizing explanatory letter.  One copy he sends to an art expert; the second, he releases into general circulation.  The catch: both books are needed to decipher the code.

When the books are at last united 25 years later, Erik and Harrison are enlisted to help unearth their hidden messages.  But when several research aides are brutally murdered, the academic challenge leads to far darker mysteries in the clandestine world of art crime.  As the couple navigate this sinister world, both their courage under fire and the stability of their relationship are tested.



Erika would not permit herself to sleep. She gave in to her selfish body only to allow it to lean its skull and spine against the wall as she went over, again and again, the day’s nightmare. Reliving it kept the memory raw; healing, impossible.

There was a light tapping on the door. She didn’t know how long she had been sitting there, only that the scant light in the room had dimmed. There was another tap.

“Miss Erika? May I come in?”

It was Grace. Erika had never heard the woman’s supplicating tone of voice, but who else could it be? “Grace?”

“Yes, Miss. Please, may I?”

A kind of dull curiosity moved her to answer, “Come in.”
Grace opened the door and entered the room. She was holding a tray, bracing one side of it with her forearm. She turned the knob with her free hand and shut the door, then better secured the tray. “I’ve brought you some cream of tomato soup and a muffin. You need some nourishment. Would you turn on the light? You wouldn’t want this old lady to trip, would you?”

Grace’s gentle prodding was so uncharacteristic that it caused Erika to rise to her feet and obey, as if to the command of a hypnotist. She clicked on the wall light and took the tray from Grace.

“Where should I put it?”

Grace scurried to the vanity table and pushed aside Erika’s pads and pens. “Right here is good.”

Erika did as she was told. Grace pulled out the chair from the vanity and reached up to touch Erika’s shoulder. “Now sit and have some soup.” She smoothed her scalloped white apron overlaying her starched black dress and stood there, waiting.

“I’m not hungry, Grace.”

“You don’t want to be hungry, but you are,” Grace said, without budging.
There seemed to be no choice but to heed Grace’s first prompt. Erika sat down. She had no intention of lifting the spoon provided. “Thank you.” She waited for Grace to exit the room.

Grace wasn’t going anywhere. She strode to the desk and dragged the desk chair to the vanity, placing it directly alongside Erika’s chair. She sat down. “You must take care of yourself—for yourself as well as your husband,” she said. “He loves you so. I have never seen him so distraught.”

“Harrison will be fine,” Erika said, staring straight ahead.

Grace shook her head. “Not if you aren’t.” She took Erika’s hand in her own. “I haven’t been very cordial to you. I apologize.”

“Apology accepted,” Erika said, feeling nothing.

“I have no children,” Grace said. “I worked for Harrison’s grandparents for fifty years. I’ve known Harrison all his life, and he is family to me; my only family. He is a dear man, but terribly naïve. It broke my heart to see his first wife take advantage of him. She nearly destroyed him. I was afraid you might do the same.”

“I won’t.” She withdrew her hand from Grace’s.

“I know you won’t. I see how you are with him. I see how you look at him.

My prejudice made me blind to this, but now I see.”

Erika turned to Grace. “I’m empty, Grace. Do you see that?” She returned her focus to the wall.





Exploring the conflict of self-determination and the yielding of self has always been of great interest to me.  Staunch independence vis-à-vis romantic love, which is submissive either by nature or indoctrination, seems to be a philosophical and evolutionary subject to grapple with.  I deal with the issue head-on by putting characters in situations where they’re struggling to define themselves at the nexus of this conflict.  For a chronically hopeless romantic myself, the experience can prove to be both daunting and self-enlightening.

For starters, I find it helps to differentiate between the characterizations of “tough” and “strong.”  Granted, both words can be nuanced to the point of no return, so I like to keep it simple. I think of “tough,” in the context of behavior, as tough as nails, tough as leather, impervious, non-resilient, averse to change.  Of course, toughness can on occasion be a handy asset. A warrior is tough; she cannot be dissuaded from her mission. This is a good thing, especially when the merest distraction can bring destruction to the individual or planet she is committed to save.  However, when it comes to tenaciously adhering to questionable or self-defeating views or behaviors, not so good.  The latter can be a more complex situation for an author and her characters to deal with, so I find it’s helpful to stick to the simple connation of “tough.”  On the other hand, I think of a “strong” character as resilient without being gelatinous, vulnerable without being a pushover.

Sometimes tough passes for strong.  Case in point: Erika Shawn, co-protagonist in my art history mystery series.  She’s ever-evolving; tested from forces within and without.  She starts out in the first book, Stolen Light, firmly entrenched in the idea that by nature, men’s protestations of loyalty cannot be trusted. Her father, with whom she’d had what she thought was an unassailable relationship, had walked out on her and her mother at a critical point in their lives, just when he was needed most.  Subsequent relationships only served to confirm her view.  She’s steeled herself, does not allow the notion of love to hamper her pragmatic sex life.  She’s smart, sassy, can out-repartee anyone up for the challenge.  She appears to be strong, but is she?  By being risk-averse, her emotional life remains stunted; in permanent quarantine.  Only when Harrison Wheatley comes into the picture is her stultifying creed tested.  The first hint of it comes early on in the book, when they’re driving out to eastern Long Island, en route to their first sleuthing venture:

“Their splayed hands were inches apart on the leather seat. It would have been so easy, so sweet, to slide her hand into contact with his. Yet under these circumstances, with her gauzy feeling threatening to overcome her good sense, no. There would be no romance: Sleeping Beauty segueing from coma to dream world, never truly waking up.  She knew from experience that the real ending of the story was disappointment, energy wasted.”

Letting her guard down and opening herself to a fuller life, albeit with its inherent risks, would be difficult for Erika, and maybe never totally realized.  In Stolen Light, as well as in the books to follow—False Light and Knight Light (in the works)—she faces other dangers, circumstantial as well as internal.  She struggles with the emotional trauma of a miscarriage and the repercussions to her sense of self-worth.  She resists Harrison’s over-protectiveness.  Her courage is tested when she’s thrown into life-threatening situations. She grows; becomes more resilient.  She can take risks without the fear of forfeiting self-governance.  In the end, when it comes to matters of the heart, she is able to bridge the gap—not without an occasional relapse—between staunch independence and romantic love.

A tough character devoid of human frailty is more of an emblem than a person a reader can relate to.  When invested in characters, I try to go with the flow, not analyze them, at least not while they’re in transit.  After a scene or a chapter, maybe, but not when my neck’s pulsing with theirs. It may be helpful to make use of words like “tough” and “strong,” but to solidify guidelines into hard and fast rules would, like overbearing parents, hinder the growth of characters out on their own for the first time.  By the same token, I try not to over-analyze the likes or expectations of the reader.  If I can empathize with the characters, I figure there’s a good chance the reader will.



Claudia Riess, a Vassar graduate, has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt, Rinehart, and Winston and has edited several art history monographs.









Goodreads Author Page:

Goodreads Book Page:

Amazon Author Page:



**False Light is available on SALE on eBook for ONLY $0.99!!!**

Amazon Kindle eBook:

Amazon Paperback:



Claudia will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those awesome giveaways on here.**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.


  1. Claudia ~ Good morning! Welcome to FAB! It is so great to have you both here! Congrats on your new book and good luck on the book tour! :)

  2. I like the excerpt, sounds good.

  3. Enjoyed reading your guest post today

  4. Thank you for sharing an excerpt, this sounds great

  5. Gorgeous cover! Sounds like a must read. Thank you for hosting.

  6. Thanks again for your interest, Caryl!