Connor, Alex - 'The Caravaggio Conspiracy'
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 discovered in a London art gallery - they're stripped naked, necks bound tightly 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 painter 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.
This long book has quite a large cast of fascinating characters (in the art world described, there are eight individually named dealers located in the art centres of London, New York, Paris and Berlin) and then there are all the associated wives and other relations which I found a bit confusing until I had read about half of the book. However, by that time a number of these characters had been killed off which made the story much more compact! I don't have much personal knowledge of the art world but the author who comes from an art history background explains all in great and vividly fascinating detail, which is just as well. I have read a lot of mystery genres but this is a first, for me, where the author has welded together an interesting, historically evocative and plot-driven murder mystery with the life of a famous seventeenth-century artist.
The author Alex Connor, also known as Alexandra Connor, writes both conspiracy thrillers and historical sagas, mostly set in the art world. She is both an artist and art historian and lives in Brighton. THE CARAVAGGIO CONSPIRACY is her fifth art-linked thriller and it is very, very, good.
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Terry Halligan, England