The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque is a mystery/thriller in the best sense of the genre. A young artist, Piambo is commissioned to do a portrait that will ensure that he will never have to work again.
The catch is that he is not allowed to see his employer, Mrs. Charbuque. While she sits behind a screen, he is only allowed to ask her questions to compose her portrait. Confused and frustrated by the terms of his task but desperately in need of the money, Piambo stumbles into Mrs. Charbuque’s world with its cast of sinister characters and secret history. Meanwhile the city around them is being attacked by parasites that cause their victims to weep blood. Jeffrey Ford, another one of my favorites, manages to set-up a tense and well-written mystery without failing to deliver at the end.