Forger – Editorial Review


Title:  Forger

Author: Mark Spivak

Genre: Psychological Thriller


Clinical psychologist, Dr. Cheryl Weissberg has been treating Lester Gordon, a genius artist with a passion for Impressionism, whose childhood trauma has triggered Dissociative Identity Disorder (“DID”) to manifest in middle age. The condition causes Lester’s psyche to split into three distinct personalities or “alters”.

As Weissberg works to reunite Lester’s multiple personalities, she realizes that two of the alters are involved in a highly sophisticated art forgery that is fooling museums, authenticators, and dealers.

Will her patient get the recognition he deserves or will Dr. Weissberg’s attempts at treatment cause the normally pliant Lester to consider murder?

Set mainly between present-day New York and events taking place fourteen months earlier, Forger is an intelligently crafted novel that uses beautifully calibrated and fluid prose to realize Lester Gordon’s compelling story.

The novel covers complex ground but in an accessible, readable, and supremely interesting manner. The main narrative is, what at first appears, as the fairly unambiguous nature of Lester’s crime at the Cantwell Gallery.

However, this incident at the Cantwell Gallery eventually reveals not only Lester’s complicated psychological situation but also exposes cerebral and open-ended moral and philosophical questions in relation to art fraud, forgery, and theory.

In a lesser writer’s hands, the entire premise of Forger could have become an indulgent mess but Spivak worked to ensure the reader not only enjoys Forger as a thriller but grasps the concepts at the heart of Lester’s behavior.

He excels in writing dialogue and uses a number of two-person conversations involving different characters that echo the patient/psychologist relationship between Lester and Dr. Weissberg. These not only drive the action forward but also cleverly consolidate and clarify events for the reader from several angles.

Spivak has thoroughly considered every aspect of Lester’s story and that of his three “alters,” Father Gordon Humphries, Louis Betancourt, and Baby Les.

Seven-year-old Baby Les is the conduit for Lester’s childhood trauma and, as such, is not overly involved in the main plot but is an important key in Dr. Weissberg’s understanding, diagnosis, and attempt at addressing Lester’s DID.

Father Gordon Humphries and Louis Betancourt are fully rounded and developed individuals with their own vibrant and credible backstories. Father Humphries is entirely plausible, measured, and written with the right amount of authenticity and gravitas.

Betancourt, the master forger, is appropriately theatrical without becoming forced or stagey, and in the middle of the three sits Lester himself. At first, he seems swamped by the brilliant chicanery of Father Humphries and Betancourt, presenting as slightly childlike and bewildered.

His view of the world appears one of simplistic ideology and it’s only as the novel nears the conclusion that the reader is finally given to appreciate that Lester is the exceptional one. The arguments that his behavior poses are valid, and as the plot moves into the murky world of art dealing, it makes for compulsive reading.

In order to really showcase the story and the ‘alters,’ the other characters, especially Dr. Weissberg, are, to a certain extent—pardon the pun—blank canvasses and as developed and convincing as they need to be.

There are hints of vulnerability in Weissberg, and it could be argued that she becomes overly subjective toward Lester without the reader knowing why. The end is a touch nebulous and does not really provide satisfactory closure, but it’s hard to envisage how else Spivak could have concluded Lester’s story.

Forger is an original, slick, and deeply intriguing novel. Mark Spivak handles Lester’s profound issues with interest and sensitivity while providing a clever, twisting, and thought-provoking mystery for the reader to unpack.



This Editorial Review was written by the Book Review Directory staff. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.

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