It Takes an Archaeologist
Quint and Clay Art Crimes Book #4
Gideon Monahan is a man dedicated to what he does--recovering stolen art--to the exclusion of anything else, including a personal life. There's a reason for that, something that happened in his past that he can't forget.
Cole Newell is an archaeologist with a problem. He needs to find out who looted a dig he worked the previous summer. When an artifact from that dig shows up at his gallery, Cole calls on Gideon to lend his expertise.
One of the looters is murdered, so they set out to find answers with the help of Detective Quint Hawk. In the process, Cole realizes he's attracted to Gideon, even though he's certain the man is straight--but is he?
Cole helps Gideon open up about--and accept--his past. But once they overcome the myriad of problems facing them, can the two men become more than friends?
Gideon congratulated Lou and Rory one more time, said his goodbyes to them and to Quint and Clay, then left the restaurant. As he walked to where he'd parked his car, he turned up his coat collar against the chilly, late February weather, before turning his phone back on. Seeing he had some voicemails, he decided to put off checking them until he returned to the hotel.
I'll be glad to get back home, back to work. Not that I wasn't working while I was here, but I need to get away from...from all the happy couples. Back to concentrating on what I do best.
What he did best was recovering stolen art. It was his passion--the one thing that had made his life bearable since... No. I'm not going there. Not again. It happened twenty years ago. Robin died because of me. He clenched his jaw against the soul-numbing pain, trying to push the memories away.
His phone rang, which helped. Checking the caller ID, he saw his assistant's name come up.
"Evening, Alex. You're up late," Gideon said. It was the truth, as it was almost eight, Denver time, making it ten in New York City where his business was headquartered.
"If you'd keep your phone on..."
"Sorry. I was attending Rory's wedding, so--"
"I can't believe he actually found someone who'd put up with him," Alex replied with a laugh. "However, that's not why I'm calling. We received an email from a Doctor Colten Newell. He's an archaeologist based out of Denver, where he also owns an antiquities gallery. He asked for our help, and since you're still in the city--"
"With a ticket to fly home in the morning," Gideon replied tartly.
"I know. Still... Gideon, since you're there, why don't you reschedule and talk with him?"
"Did he say what he wants?"
"Something to do with thefts from a dig he was working and wanting to find out who was responsible, as well as locating the people selling and buying the artifacts. He didn't go into details."
"That does not come under our--" Gideon started to reply.
"It's art, Gideon. Sure...not canvases or what have you, but Native American artifacts are still art, and you know it."
With a sigh, Gideon agreed. "Email him back. Set up an appointment for sometime tomorrow."
"At the hotel?"
"Yes. Let me know when, then have him call me when he gets there."
After hanging up, Gideon headed back to the hotel. He was not at all happy with the turn of events, but business was business, so to speak. He'd hear what Dr Newell had to say, then...
Then what? None of my operatives have any archaeology creds, so turning him over to one of them won't work--if I decide the man has a valid problem that we can help him with. At least I know a little something about the subject. Very little, but... He mentally shrugged, then went up to his room.
"In for a penny, in for a pound," Cole Newell said under his breath as he waited just after nine thirty pm for the elevator at ART hotel. He knew he needed help. He just wasn't certain he'd get it from Gideon Monahan. He recovers stolen art, and while I know what's gone missing is art, he might not agree.
The elevator arrived, Cole stepped in, then pressed the button for Mr Monahan's floor. A few moments later, he rapped on the door to Monahan's suite. When it opened, Cole saw a man who was perhaps six or seven years older than his own thirty-eight. He had dark blond, well-styled hair and light-blue eyes. There was sadness in them, despite the smile on Mr Monahan's face as he said, "Doctor Newell? Welcome. Come in."
"Please call me Cole, Mr Monahan," Cole replied.
"Only if you call me Gideon. Let me take your coat, then have a seat." Gideon gestured toward the sofa and chairs in the suite's living room. "Would you care for something to drink? Coffee? Or something stronger?"
"Coffee would be great," Cole said, handing Gideon his coat. He sat in one of the armchairs, putting his messenger bag down beside it.
Gideon went to the refreshment bar, pouring already brewed coffee for both of them. "Cream? Sugar?"
"Black is fine. Thank you." When Gideon handed him his coffee, Cole tasted it before setting the cup on the side table.
Gideon took the other chair. "Shall we get down to business, Cole?"
"Direct and to the point," Cole said with a small smile. "All right. For starters, I own a gallery here in the city--Newell's Southwest Antiquities. I buy and sell legally acquired Native American collectibles. I also do appraisals on items someone might bring in, wanting to know what they have and if it has any real or historical value."
"Wouldn't that be one in the same?" Gideon asked.
"An item, say an Anasazi bowl, could be a poly-chrome one from around twelve-seventy-five AD, with no restoration, valued at between two-fifty and three-fifty--dollars, that is, not thousands of dollars. Or it could be a poly-chrome bowl from 1400 to 1600 AD that, even with some minimal restoration, is valued at four thousand or more. The rarity of the item counts for more than the condition or age."
"Makes sense. What makes something legally acquired?"
"That's a complicated issue," Cole replied. "Is the item from public lands or private? Are they grave goods or made from an endangered species? Does the seller have good title to the item? Is it stolen?" Cole paused to take a drink of coffee. "When it comes to grave goods--objects from burial sites--or sacred items, then legally the items must be returned to the tribe or Native American group they came from. That's call cultural patrimony."
As he talked, Cole watched Gideon. From his expression, Cole had the distinct feeling Gideon knew most of what he'd told him, so he asked if he did.