A Mystery Wrapped in a Greater Mystery Wrapped in a Novel

Sep 7, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Books & Tales, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Lois Winston

Do you recognize the man in the frame on the cover of Guilty as Framed? If you answered Rembrandt, give yourself a bubblegum cigar, a pat on the back, or two-thumbs up.

But what, you might ask, is a portrait of seventeenth-century Dutch Master Rembrandt van Rijn doing on the cover of a humorous cozy mystery set in present-day New Jersey?

For the eleventh book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, I created a story where I incorporate an actual crime that took place more than three decades ago. In 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston was burglarized. To this day, it is still considered the largest art heist in history. None of the stolen artworks, including the miniature Rembrandt self-portrait that plays a role in Guilty as Framed, have ever been recovered, and most of the suspects and persons of interest have since died. Although Anastasia doesn’t find the stolen artworks, she is drawn into the unsolved mystery of the museum heist.

The “greater mystery” of the title of this article is the theft of the artworks. The novel, of course, is Guilty as Framed. But what is the “mystery” wrapped in that greater mystery? It’s the Rembrandt self-portrait, an etching no larger than a postage stamp. The etching was purchased for Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1886 from the art dealer Frederick Keppel & Co. It’s titled, “Rembrandt ‘Aux Trois Moustaches.” For those of you who don’t speak French, that translates to “Rembrandt with Three Moustaches.”

Three moustaches?

I’m sure you’re wondering how a man could have three moustaches. Since, like most (if not all) humans, Rembrandt only had one head, one prevailing theory suggests that the second “moustache” is his beard and the third is the fur on his cap. Maybe I can buy into the beard, although I’ve never heard of a beard being called a moustache. But the cap “moustache” seems quite a stretch. I’d be less skeptical if the etching were titled “Rembrandt with Two Moustaches and one Furry Caterpillar on his Cap.”

Was the three-moustache title someone’s idea of a joke? Rembrandt was a serious artist. He never displayed a sense of humor in any of his paintings or in the titles of them. Most likely he named this work “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, as so many of his early self-portraits were titled, or possibly “Self-Portrait Wearing a Soft Cap.” It seems rather unlikely the three-moustache name came from him. If a prankster is behind the title of the etching, the blame probably lands squarely on the art dealer who listed the etching as such on the sales invoice.

But what does this miniature Rembrandt self-portrait have to do with Anastasia Pollack? You’ll get no spoilers from me. For an answer to that mystery, you’re going to have to read Guilty as Framed.

Guilty as Framed
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 11

When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history.

Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancé Zack Barnes.

A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history.

But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want?

Buy Links
Paperback (available 9/6)
Kindle: amzn.to/3wXxqWn
Kobo: kobo.com/us/en/ebook/guilty-as-framed
Apple Books: books.apple.com/us/book/guilty-as-framed/id6442846272
Nook: barnesandnoble.com/w/guilty-as-framed-lois-winston/1141500980?ean=2940185728703

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

The first chapter of another book in this series by Lois Winston was featured in a past Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast episode. You can listen by clicking here or on the player below:

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, which are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Thanks so much for featuring my latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery today!

    • You are very welcome! Thank you for sharing this interesting post about the book with us.


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