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That Terrible Shadowing: The Quest Across Time for Caravaggio's Killer [Illustrated] [Paperback]

David Stedman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 July 2009
Worlds and cultures clash when a cynical and world-weary modern Brit is forced to team up with Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio, the turbulent genius of Italian Baroque art, in a perilous quest back and forth through time. Together, they unravel real life clues contained in his paintings and in a biography of the painter's extraordinary life, before discovering the astonishing secrets that led to his murder - 400 years before. A compact time travel device brings Caravaggio, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. It also spirits our cynically humorous narrator back four hundred years to meet celebrity suspects among Caravaggio's fellow artists, friends, lovers and patrons. Clues are traced from true facts found in period writings and paintings, including Caravaggio's own masterworks, which are reproduced so that the reader can attempt to solve the mystery themselves, or simply gorge on the astonishing images produced by Caravaggio's hand. The investigations reveal Caravaggio's prodigally degenerate genius, and we feel him writhe under questioning, as if hiding something he does not want the world to know. The narrator's forensic probes and forays across time bring us inexorably to unmask a culprit condemned by clues from Caravaggio's own works. The story is taut and shamelessly scabrous in establishing the Rabelaisian relationship between the narrator and the artist himself. Known facts about Caravaggio's life are kept intact, but the plot is ingeniously peppered with plausible inferences that intensify and enrich the dramatic and entertaining content. It is a fact that Caravaggio murdered his love rival and incurred the death sentence from the state and vengeance from his victim's family. It is a fact that Caravaggio's body disappeared after his death, despite the fact that he was the most famous artist in Europe. But if mute on Caravaggio's actual cause of death in 1610, history seethes with motives and teems with suspects. July 2010 sees the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio's death and there is bound to be worldwide interest in the life and work of this most compelling and influential artist.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Matador (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848761317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848761315
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 913,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

After a long career in retail management, David Stedman founded Quizmail, the UK's biggest national quiz tournament, in 1991. In 2003 he won the title of 'Brain of Britain'. While studying specialist subjects for Mastermind he developed a deep interest in the life of the turbulent Baroque artist Caravaggio and was inspired to bring his story to life in a modern and imaginative format.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will they make the film? 2 July 2010
Stedman has followed what seems to be an increasingly popular route in modern literature of positing 'non-academic' theories in the guise of works of fiction. Whether you enjoy this book or not will largely depend on the extent to which you buy into this approach and also the particular theory/speculation that is narrated.

I, for one, enjoy this particular medium for learning (or being inspired to learn) about historical times/figures etc. And this book offers an excellent exponent of the art.

The essential plot is somewhat tongue-in-cheek yet undertaken with a level of seriousness that enables the reader to suspend disbelief. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio has been rescued from imminent death by the Tralfamadorians - an alien race who have a fascination with the painter and his works. These aliens want to uncover the mystery of C's death which is postulated to be a murder case. The fascination the Ts have with human quiz shows has led them to believe that Stephen Madden (read Stedman - partial anagram but obvious allusion) - a winner of various quiz shows specializing in the life and times of Caravaggio - is an expert, or rather 'the' expert on Caravaggio and thus best placed to help them out with their investigation. Of course Madden lives four hundred years on from C's death. So, Merisi is sent, by the aliens using time travelling technology, into the future.

The rest of the book involves Madden being sent, via the time machine, into the late 16th/early 17th century to interview key figures in C's life and back again to the present to verify things with Merisi - who invariably causes mischief in the present while Madden is time travelling.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read!!!!!!!!!!! 11 July 2009
From the opening page to last, I could not put this book down. Every chapter thrilled to the core. Chasing back through time to find clues had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Caravaggio came jumping out of the pages, as colourful as any character in time. This book is every bit as good as a Dan Brown novel. A Must Read. A sure fire hit. Well done Stedman!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning made easy 1 Feb 2010
I have always been interested in Caravaggio - more so than any other artist. I enjoy contemporary art but he lived life on the edge in a way that our famous contemporary artists could only dream of. The book perfectly exhibits this. It is exciting and at times funny - due to time travel!. However it more importantly teaches the reader about art/history/life and death in an absorbing way. Enjoyed it more than any Dan Brown.
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5.0 out of 5 stars that wonderful shadowing 6 Jan 2011
Great read, gets you from the first page. An interesting mix of fact and fiction together with a light-hearted often comical present day storyline. I now intend to purchase Helen Langdons "Caravagio a life" to see which is which.
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