Dr Reggie Lee, newly arrived at the National Gallery, is putting together a small exhibition around three Caravaggios depicting 'St Cecilia and the Angel.' One is at the Getty, one at the Louvre, and she hopes it won't be too hard to track down the third. But a series of inexplicable obstacles keep getting in her way - and then, unexpectedly, a fourth Caravaggio turns up. One of them must be a fake. But which?
When people start to die, it seems clear that someone doesn't want Reggie's show to go ahead. Why, she can't imagine. But her career is at stake, and she'd damned if she'll let herself be intimidated and bullied by these unseen forces. So Reggie investigates and her research takes her from Surrealist suicides to shady Italian art dealers, from seventeenth-century painting techniques to modern French politics in a viciously-fought Presidential election year. By the end it seems as though nobody in the opaque and ill-defined world of art can really stay incorruptible - perhaps not even Reggie herself.
Art, war, love and loss all figure in Brandon's enjoyable first in a series featuring art historian Reggie Lee. Recently hired by London's National Gallery, Reggie gets the approval of the museum's director to exhibit a 1605 Caravaggio altarpiece, St. Cecilia and the Angel, along with the two copies the artist made, one of which is at the Getty, the other at the Louvre. When Antoine Rigaut, the Louvre's Italian collection administrator, refuses the loan, Reggie travels to Paris to confront Rigaut, who proves elusive and later turns up dead, an apparent suicide. Reggie eventually locates Riguat's elderly mother, a remarkable woman who holds the key to the complex history of the Louvre's copy of St. Cecilia and the Angel, which was stolen and soon after recovered in 1937. When a third copy of the painting surfaces, Reggie really has her work cut out for her. Brandon is the author of Surreal Lives: The Surrealists, 1917 1945 and other works of nonfiction.
Very Bad Book
This was a truly bad book. The art angle was negligible. The protagonist was deplorable. The plot was ponderous. And the writing ... it's as if it were written by a college sophomore for her creative writing class. Skip this one.