B. A. Shapiro’s new book “The Art Forger’’ is billed as a literary thriller. But the Boston-area author’s sixth novel offers no heart-pounding action, no breakneck pace, only a modicum of suspense, and an unlikely threat of violence toward the end. Fans of James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Michael Crichton expecting an adrenalin rush are likely to be disappointed in Shapiro’s mostly leisurely pace, layers of back story, and lengthy excursions into the history and practitioners of art forgery.
What Shapiro does deliver is a satisfying, plot-driven novel of revelation, an intriguing, ladylike mystery with a puzzle or two at its core. It’s an engaging tale about art, cupidity, and a Faustian bargain, using as backdrop the real-life, still unsolved 1990 theft of 13 artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.