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FAKE, a novel about the art world and its relationship with forgeries, is also about the many ways in which society promotes and condones the “fake”--- in culture, social media and even the lies we tell ourselves.

"Katz makes us root for Emma and her friends...and hope that she can navigate through her troubles, both internal and external."

Emma Caan is an aspiring artist who makes a living painting high-quality copies of multi-million-dollar works of art. The dupes hang on the walls of wealthy clients whose originals stay tucked away in a “freeport” where tax laws don’t apply, even when one of these masterworks is sold. Leonard Sobetsky, a client of the firm where Emma works, arranges for her to get a highly prized job at a prestigious gallery, in exchange for painting copies from his collection. He also sets her up in her own apartment, with a large studio that dwarfs her walk-up in Washington Heights.

Suddenly, Emma’s life goes from drab to glamourous, and she can’t get enough of it. She loves her work and, with the help of Leonard, meets people who buy art from the gallery, giving her more clout, as well as a burgeoning Instagram following. Before she knows it, she’s a virtual celebrity.

The warning signs have been there from the beginning, though. By including excerpts from interviews between Emma and the FBI throughout the book, author Erica Katz lets her readers in on what is increasingly obvious to everyone around her: Emma’s client, a Russian oligarch, wants something in return for introducing her to the high life of private planes and international art fairs. What happens if she gives it to him --- and what will he do to her if she doesn’t?

Katz, whose previous novel, THE BOYS’ CLUB, was a thriller set in white-shoe New York law firms, has done her homework here as well. The elite New York art world, backbiting and all, comes alive in these pages. Some might argue that Emma’s rise is a bit too precipitous, or her naivete about her benefactor is unrealistic. But Katz makes us root for Emma and her friends (though some turn out to belong in the fair-weather camp) and hope that she can navigate through her troubles, both internal and external.

Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley on February 25, 2022

by Erica Katz

  • Publication Date: February 22, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0063082586
  • ISBN-13: 9780063082588