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The Mysterious Affair at the Met : Priscilla Plays in High Cotton in the World of Highly-Valued Works of Art - M. J. Simms-Maddox

The Mysterious Affair at the Met

Priscilla Plays in High Cotton in the World of Highly-Valued Works of Art

By: M. J. Simms-Maddox

Hardcover | 1 June 2021

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The Mysterious Affair at the Met: Priscilla Plays in High Cotton in the World of Highly-Valued Works of Art-the fifth installment in the Priscilla Series-begins in the middle of May 1990 in the city that never sleeps. Although New Yorkers are experiencing tempestuous weather of howling gales and torrential rains, still, people are out and about, dressed in rain hats and trench coats, and other waterproof wear. Tourists are drifting in and out myriads of shops and restaurants and showplaces such as museums and theatres, any place to escape the wind and the pouring rain.

A favorite destination-even for New Yorkers-is the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art. On this particular day, "the Met," as generally known, experiences an unusually large number of visitors. Visitors have their choice of viewing over two million works of art spanning five millennia of cultures worldwide. But some among them are up to something more sinister.

At one point the Met surveillance cameras' lenses capture "a mysterious-looking couple" amid the many visitors strolling about the many galleries. The pair is dripping wet in their matching taupe Burberry trench coats. Just as the two of them walk past Soleil dans le Ciel de Saint-Paul, a masterpiece of Marc Chagall, a large tourist group-who, oddly enough, all are wearing distinctive red-and-white-striped vinyl raincoats-converges around them. But it is what happens next that baffles the museum's surveillance crew. After "the mysterious-looking couple" pulls off their prank, they and the large tourist group walk out of that particular camera's range, becoming submerged elsewhere in the interminable galleries of the gigantic museum.

But when a docent notices "something strange" with Chagall's Soleil dans le Ciel de Saint-Paul, in short order, the museum-goers inside the Chagall gallery hear "High Alert!" and watch in horror as a heavy metal grille drops down from the ceiling to the floor, effectively locking them inside the gallery.

And thus began what later came to be called "The Mysterious Affair at the Met."

Meanwhile, Priscilla has returned home to Columbus, Ohio, from a secret mission as a special envoy in the Middle East. There are no terrorists on her tail. Nor does she sport her government-issued G45. Yet, the newlywed of nearly four months is unable to resume her marriage because her agent-husband Carlton has sustained a severe bout with amnesia. How he contracted the illness would puzzle her for some time to come. So Priscilla decides to open a branch public relations office in New York City because it is closer than Columbus to her in-laws in Bow Lake, New Hampshire, where her darling Carlton is recuperating.

As word leaks about the "high alert"at the Met and about Priscilla is setting up shop in the City, the Met board of trustees acts quickly and retains the savvy and discreet PR consultant, P. J. Austin-Bernhardt.

Determined to get to the bottom of the matter, Priscilla uses her intelligence-gathering prowess and delves head-on into circumstances surrounding the mysterious affair.

She learns that a French artist named Thibaut Francois is at the heart of it all; he is a forger of masterpieces, a thief, and an extortionist, too. But Priscilla learns more. She learns that this global art fraud racket also involves one of Thibaut Francois's twin sons and a former associate who happens to be the current Met board chairman. The story takes off from here.

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