The Last Roadshow by John Czarnota
The Last Roadshow, by John Czarnota has a fantasic premise: Joe Knocker (not his real name) goes to the filming of Antiques Roadshow programs. He finds someone with a valuable piece of artwork, and then six months later (so someone at the Roadshow won’t be suspected). His network of fences and dealers are extensive, as is his love of and appreciation for the works he steals. Just when he thinks he’s ready to retire, a man from whom Knocker has ‘liberated’ a flag presented by Lewis and Clark to a Native American chief figures out who he is and tracks him down.
Knocker has to get the flag back and deliver it to its original owner, which results in untimely deaths, fake kidnappings, and other shady dealings. Knocker is an asthete, who loves his art, food, and drink. His cross country adventure, taking him back along the trail the Lewis and Clark originally blazed, is filled with luscious meals and other artistic finds. Czarnota either has an incredibly vivid imagination, or he writes from sensual memory: the descriptions of meals, wines, and pieces of art are so detailed that they seem obviously real. I’m assuming that Czarnota himself took the trip that he had Knocker take in the book, because the detail was that fine. At times, it reads more like a travelogue than an adventure story.
The story arc is a little disjointed – there is a large thread in the beginning that is left hanging, and the ending is a little bit abrupt. It was an enjoyable read, though, a step above mind candy, and a good story, and it left me wanting to eat at some of the same restaurants and look up the pictures of the artists described.
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by the good folks at BookBear in exchange for an honest review.
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Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. The hard copy of the book can be found on Amazon & BarnesandNoble.com and select local retailers. The e-book can be found here. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.