Thunder and lightning. The rain fell harder now. It washed the smoke from the air and brought a clean, metallic scent, but it made the two figures harder to see at a distance. The shorter of the two figures staggered under the weight of the crate they carried between them, but ducked its head and stumbled on. When they reached the trash bin, the taller one braced against the box to improve its grip. The heavy lid was already open, gleaming in the floodlight, and after some awkward jostling, the …
Late one night during the fiery early days of the Iranian revolution, as rain washes smoke from the air, two dark figures raid the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art and carry off thirty of the world’s most famous paintings. The theft is never made public. But even the Iranians don’t know the surprising result: most of the paintings are forgeries.
Thirty-six years later, one of the thieves breaks her leg and is sent to a rehabilitation facility by her bosses at Quixote, Ltd., a secretive branch of Levesque Security that specializes in “extrications.” Marge Smith doesn’t know why she’s been sent to this nursing home, but doubts that it has anything to do with the geriatric production of Macbeth she’s been inveigled to take part in—until one of the witches drops dead during the premiere. When the remaining witches consult Levesque Security regarding an art burglary at the deceased woman’s home, Marge is astonished to be handed an inventory of titles familiar to her—Picasso, Degas, Monet, Gaughin. She had once stolen them all herself.
Now she must track them down and steal them again. But are these genuine or fake? A visit to a renowned former cat burglar in Tuscany, his mind now clouded with senility, suggests that they might be genuine, but nothing is what it appears, especially Marge herself.
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The old man drowsed in the shade cast by the grape arbor, his soft snores harmonizing with the buzzing of bees overhead. His stork’s legs extended in front of him, crossed at the ankles over sandals. His knobby knees showed below his khaki shorts, white chest hair above his open collar. What hair he had left on his head was the same white, but barely visible beneath the cap she made him wear. His mottled hands draped over the chair arms, and sometimes his fingers twitched until Giulia wondered …
The first witch had a bad cold. Her voice was thick. “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in—in—in—.” The witch sneezed. The sneeze dislodged her witch’s hat and it plummeted to the floor, nearly spearing Claude, the tubby gray longhair who was impersonating the witches’ familiar. The hat didn’t have far to go, since the witch was seated. Claude slumbered on. Like a magician producing a vanished handkerchief, the first witch pulled from her cardigan sleeve a …