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Caravaggio’s Angel
Reggie Lee - Book I

by Ruth Brandon

      National Gallery curator Regina Lee, aka Reggie, is recovering from being jilted by her lover and in need of other pursuits.  Since childhood, she has loved Caravaggio’s painting of St. Cecilia and the Angel, and following a chance find at a country fete, is keen to stage an exhibition.  There are three copies in existence and two of these are easy to locate, but where is the third?  Also, how is it all connected to a strange theft in the 1930s by a surrealist who then committed suicide?  Reggie’s dogged determinism will lead her to Paris, then the South of France, where old sins cast some long shadows, and might just prove her undoing.

This is the first entry in a brand new series, set in the rarefied circles of the international art world.  As a murder mystery, it takes its time unfolding and cannot be said to exactly be a pacy page turner, although to do it justice there is always something going on.  Rather it is to be enjoyed for its topicality, and ability to tie in many fascinating aspects of art history and modern politics.  Reggie gets tangled with the politics of the far right wing in France, as well as discovering facts about the Resistance, the fate of collaborators and the arcane world of the Surrealists.  Then there is Caravaggio himself, although he is less to the forefront than the French politics.  Ms Brandon’s other particular talent is for description, as with a few broad brushstrokes she describes rain-washed Paris, hectic London or the blue-shadowed, sunlit aridity of the Midi.  Quite a lot in here in fact, all it needs is a faster pace to sparkle.

The Book

Constable (Constable and Robinson)
November 2008
1845296974/ 9781845296971
Mystery (Contemporary)
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2009
© 2009