Wednesday, April 3, 2013

March Books

*The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor is the spellbinding story  of Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it. O’Connor paints a striking portrait of  Vienna’s  from Fin de Siecle through the  post-Nazi era to the return of the masterpiece to the heirs of the original owner in 2009 when Ronald Lauder bought it for $135 million a century after Klimt completed the society portrait.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn isn’t up to the standard of her later Gone Girl, but shows the potential that will develop. Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” Libby survived–and testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. She visits her past, an incredibly unpleasant collection of losers  and other “dark places” to shed light on what really happened.

*The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva begins in Rome, where Gabriel  Allon, art restorer, assassin, spy, is called upon to investigate a murder at the Vatican, one with potentially disastrous repercussions.  Allon jets around the world to protect the Vatican, Israel and the world in a formulaic story that is both engaging and almost believable. Daniel Silva’s thrilling universe of intrigue, danger, and exceptional spy craft is one of the best in a crowded genre. The Philadelphia Inqurer concludes, “The enigmatic Gabriel Allon remains one of the most intriguing heroes of any thriller series.”

Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin features the return of former Detective John Rebus  who has never shied away from lost causes. Now he's back as a retired civilian, reviewing abandoned files and never missing the opportunity to upset his bureaucratic bosses, have a nip of the hard stuff or seeing missed  connections in the cases of missing women.  Rankin has an international fan base who raves about his ‘nuanced prose’, but I’m not a member of the group and thought a little less nuance might have saved a couple of hundred pages.

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