“A Beautiful Crime” by Christopher Bollen— A Literary Thriller


Bollen, Christopher. “A Beautiful Crime”, Harper, 2020.

A Literary Thriller

Amos Lassen

Christopher Bollen’s “A Beautiful Crime” is a story of deception, set in contemporary Venice where a a young American couple become involved in a high-stakes con.
Nick Brink and his boyfriend Clay Guillory meet up on the Grand Canal in Venice and they have a plan in mind. Nick and Clay are running away from their lives in New York City. They want a happier future someplace else and decide to see a collection of counterfeit antiques to an unsuspecting American living out his retirement years in Venice and they feel sure that they will succeed. 

However, as we all know, some plans just do not always work in expected ways. Both men are carrying baggage and it is not always easy to adjust to life in a new place. Besides, both men are greedy. For them to have the kind of future they desire, they have to us deceit and lies and a future based on such usually does not guarantee a good life.

Clay is dealing with issues in his life including being able to let go of the past. While this novel is a thriller it is also “a meditation on love, class, race, sexuality, and the legacy of bohemian culture.”

If you have ever visited Venice, you are surely aware of the enchantment of the city. With all of its passageways and alleys, it is easy to be swept up in to the culture of the place as Nick soon discovers. Christopher Bollen looks at Venice a bit differently even though we sense his great love for the city. He introduces us to the violence and greed that can be found there. Of course, this affects Nick and Clay who come across as an unusual couple to begin with and with all of their lies and scheming, we can only wonder if they will be able to stay together. They have come to Venice to sell Clay’s ex-boyfriend’s fake silver at vet high cost. We learn that Clay’s boyfriend came from one of the founding families of the early settlements of New York but he died. Nick and Clay come with an idea to take advantage of the wealth he left behind. As they begin their deception, they are forced to add layers to their lies, not knowing if their plan will succeed or fail. To say any more than that about the plot would ruin a wonderful read and what I have said is lean at most. In addition to reding quite a thriller, we get to meet and learn about fascinating characters. In dealing with the gay characters, we simply see two men who love each other and become aware of the differences between Millennial gays and those who preceded them. Through Nick and Clay, we get a realistic and honest look at the gay community.  
A word of preparation— clear your day before you begin to read because you will not want to stop reading. There were moments when I wanted the two men to get away with their plan but there were other times that I desperately wanted them to fail.

The plot moves at a fast-pace and holds us throughout as we wonder what will happen next.  suspenseful thriller and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat never knowing what will happen next. Even though I have closed the book’s covers, I am still captivated by what I read.

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