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By Myles Knapp

FATAL FORGERIES is the fourth installment in the Bodies of Art mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Ritter Ames.

In this new release, art recovery expert Laurel Beacham steals stolen art and returns it to the rightful owners—and Ames wastes no time getting into the ation. The first scene is an anxiety fueled mash-up complete with a sexy blonde (Laurel), Lycra cat suit, dimly lit quarter moon night, crossbow, five-hundred-year-old-golden-stone balustrade, night-vision goggles, rappelling, a single isolated gun shot, human security patrols, and dangerous security dogs.

FATAL FORGERIES is about art recovery—but it’s about much more than risking your life to return stolen property. It’s about the challenges and joys of being a team member. It’s also about the anxiety of being a team leader in a world where there is never enough accurate intel and where no good theft goes unpunished. The tension ratchets up when Laurel’s personal and professional worlds collide. Her overtaxed team is divided, but must set aside their differences and perform at peak capacity—or they could become the next fatalities.

Thanks to The Big Thrill, I had the opportunity to ask Ames questions I’m sure both writers and readers will find enlightening.

How did you come up with the idea for FATAL FORGERIES?

Because of my multi-book outline, I have all the important parts laid out for each title already, but with a lot of flexibility. So, I knew what crime needed to occur in FATAL FORGERIES, and used the spectrum of the forgeries for the first twist that drives how the characters must react. I also already knew what needed to be revealed in this book about all the characters—both heroes and villains, and what series information needed to come out to set up the fifth book.

Each of the books (Counterfeit Conspiracies, Marked Masters, Abstract Aliases, and FATAL FORGERIES) can be read as standalones, but I want to reward readers who read the series in order. I always try to add extras that readers who know the series well will understand as insider info, but won’t be a problem for readers who are new to the series.

In FATAL FORGERIES, I wanted to finish part of what I started in Abstract Aliases, letting Laurel (and readers) know more about Jack, and at the same time, give Laurel some unexpected information about herself. And, as usual, I wanted to put the characters in a life-or-death situation when confronted with the bad guys.

Which comes first in importance for you? Plot? Or Character?

Since this series was created based on a multi-book story arc, character probably started the idea, but the need to weave in plot throughout means, at times, both are of equal importance. In a multi-book series, plot and character are entwined on the weight scale.

What thriller writers have inspired you?

Probably my all-time favorite thriller was The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth. That one is an oldie, I know, and I was in high school when I read it, so that might be why it’s still so vivid in my memory. But I absolutely loved the twist in that book.

While my books are lighter on the thriller side, at some points even bordering on caper, I like having that lightness to balance the crimes, much like old Cary Grant movies like It Takes a Thief or North by Northwest—the seriousness was there, but Grant added humor as a counterbalance.

Complete this sentence. Fans of __________ (insert authors names) will find FATAL FORGERIES very appealing.

I’ve had a lot of readers do comparisons in written reviews. They’re compared to espionage themes like James Bond and Covert Affairs, to con themes like White Collar and Leverage and Remington Steele, or to book series like Carla Neggers’ Sharpe & Donovan and to Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss.

If I had to compare, I would probably look to heist films and books more than anything else—like To Catch a Thief, Ocean’s Eleven, or the parts of Casino Royale where Bond and Vesper are teamed up.

Did you have a goal in writing the book? Entertainment and?

I need to have twists in this series. And I love reading action. I don’t want readers ever to wade through a soggy middle or see the next plot twists coming. I do want my books to be jaw dropping enough for readers to be surprised when each new one is revealed, and have readers wonder what else they missed along the way. I always play fair with the reader, I hate when authors don’t do that, but I try to vary the clues enough so readers don’t recognize them as clues until the twist comes and they say “oh, yeah” and maybe are excited enough to go back and reread to catch what they didn’t realize they should have seen the first time.

What sort of research do you do?

A lot comes from first person travel—a lifelong love. But my husband would probably tell you a lot of it also comes from juggling the budget to find ways to get one more set of airline tickets to someplace I’ve always wanted to visit. I also started art history studies in college, and I still read anything connected to the subject or elements of art and artists. I also love to read travel publications and books on mystery and art crime, as well as science magazines that help me figure how to give my characters believable gizmos and gadgets they need—but without my writing becoming so detailed that the action slows.

 Any advice for aspiring writers?

Just write. There is always something or someone that will try to slow you down or tell you something isn’t good enough. Don’t listen; get it written. Everything can be fixed in revision, just get the draft completed.


Ritter Ames is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Bodies of Art Mysteries and the Organized Mysteries series. She lives atop a scenic green hill with her husband and Labrador retriever and spends each day globetrotting the art world from her laptop. Much like her Bodies of Art Mysteries, Ritter’s favorite vacations start in London then spiral out in every direction. She’s been known to plan trips after researching new books and keeps a list of “can’t miss” foods to taste along the way.

To learn more, please check out her website and follow her on Facebook.