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The Ross Forgery

Thomas Wise was a famous nineteenth-century English bibliophile.  He collected one of the greatest private libraries of the century.  He was also a successful publisher of first editions of Victorian masterpieces, creating more than fifty of them over a forty-year period. They made him a fortune.  Only shortly before his death was it discovered that most of those first editions were forgeries.  Using this true story as a springboard, William H Hallahan has contrived one of the strangest plots ever devised by a suspense novelist.

Thomas Long Pickett is a Texas tycoon.  He has everything under the sun, including an impressive collection of Wise forgeries.  He is the envy of every twentieth-century book collector.   He is also the special anathema of New York tycoon Emmet O'Kane, who has everything under the sun but a Wise forgery.  He commissions Edgar Ross, a brilliant down-at-the-heels type designer, to make him a Wise folio – to create a forgery of a forgery.  But he wants Ross to go one step further.  He wants a Wise forgery that doesn't exist!  Ross knows that it is not only an illegal undertaking: it is also an impossible one.  But he is into the Family for a large gambling debt, and he knows that the Family collects its debts in brutal, often fatal, ways.  

For $100,000 Ross promises O'Kane the impossible.  The ways and means he employs to create a "nineteenth-century pamphlet" with its long-lost type face and the special ink and papers used only in the 1880s will delight the literary detective in all of us.  How he tries by the skin of his teeth to hold the Family at bay adds an intriguing dimension of suspense.  How he finally makes delivery and collects O'Kane's money is laid out in an ended that is shocking for its unexpected twists. 

"The Ross Forgery is beautifully plotted and builds up to a terrific climax.  Don't miss it."  Newgate Callendar, The New York Times Book Review.