1608. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the greatest Italian painter of his day, is expelled from the Order of the Knights of Malta. Subject to a clandestine hearing, his crime remains a closely guarded secret.
2014. Two bodies are found in a London art gallery – stripped naked, necks bound with wire and legs obscenely contorted. They are twin brothers – successful art dealers – their brutal murder linked to the mysterious disappearance of two paintings by the master Caravaggio.
Investigators are confounded, and it falls to art expert Gil Eckhart to identify the killer before he slays again. But as the search for clues takes him from the glamorous skyline of New York to the fetid catacombs of Palermo, Eckhart finds that in the high-stakes world of art, good and evil are often tarred with the same, blood-soaked, brush.
I first discovered Alex Connor in December last year when I read and reviewed The Rembrandt Secret, a thrilling entry for me into her fictional world of art history – I should also say that the story is loosely based on true events. The Rembrandt Secret is a subtle blend of fact and fiction that cannot fail to interest the reader and heighten one’s hunger for discovery. The fun in books of this ilk, certainly as far as I’m concerned, is discovering what really happened all those years ago and what events were a by-product of an intelligent authorial mind!
The Caravaggio Conspiracy follows the same format, why fix if it ain’t broke?! This thriller moves along at a rapid pace, not quite as fast as her previous title but it’s still a very quick and enjoyable read. The murders are a little gruesome, although very well thought out, and there’s a part in the book you may want to avoid if you are claustrophobic! The macabre in me loved that passage of the thriller.
One of the great things I’m beginning to discover with Alex’s novels is that the person or persons responsible for the ensuing carnage are not at all obvious until very close to the end! You can’t ask for more than that in a thriller. Suspects come and go, some forgotten until later in the story when something occurs to bring them right back in the firing line. She keeps you guessing that’s for sure!
Characterisation is good and no one is perfect, they all have their faults and secrets. I went through a range of emotions with the protagonist – Gil Eckhart – and to be frank I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about him! He’s a complex character that’s for sure!
I really enjoyed the globetrotting yet again and the 17th century timeline a great addition to the story and very well told. As with her previous novels expect a few red herrings and more than one curve ball – she does like doing that to the reader!!
Overall another accomplished novel, I turned the final page wanting to know more and read more from Alex Connor – you can’t ask for more than that. Of the two I’ve read I still prefer The Rembrandt Secret but that may well be down to my preference to all things Rembrandt! Caravaggio is coming up on the outside and the race isn’t over just yet! Bravissimo!
Also reviewed on Parmenion Books.
- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Quercus (2 Jan 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1782065040 and ISBN-13: 978-1782065043