Thursday, July 09, 2009

DEATH AND RESTORATION by Iain Pears (1996)

Another Jonathan Argyll Art Mystery, DEATH AND RESTORATION chronicles the work of a restoration expert, Dan Menzies, who is working on a disputed Caravaggio canvas in a monastery in San Giovanni. While Menzies is trying to clean and restore the dark masterpiece, a smaller painting, a curious icon of the BVM said to have potent powers over her people, goes missing, but not before an elderly monk has his head paritally bashed in and is left bleeding on the cold stone floor.

While the icon is lost in transit--a caper including a French art dealer and an infamous thief and a bag of money left in a railway station--there is also a corpse floating in the Tiber.

It takes the wiles of both Flavia di Stefano of Rome's Art Theft Squad and her fiance, art dealer Jonathan Argyll, a few missteps, conversations with a crazy priest and many documents in Latin and Greek to discover what has really happened and why.

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