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4.4 out of 5 stars54
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2013
Isle of the dead is the tale of a sixteenth century conspiracy and a modern day murder.

Legend has it that when the long- lost Titian painting of Angelico Vespucci, a notorious Venetian murderer re-appears, the man himself will come back to life to recommence his ghastly work. For he was no ordinary serial killer, but one who delighted in torturing his victims by flaying them alive.

So is it a coincidence that the woman who discovers the painting is found shortly afterwards, having suffered the same fate as women hundreds of years before? Or that the flayed bodies of other young women start to appear on the anniversary of the deaths of Vespucci's victims?

Washed up art dealer Gaspare Reni doesn't think so. Nor does Johnny Ravenscourt, a wealthy friend of the first victim who is also obsessed with the legend. Seemingly desperate to find out the truth he hires Gaspare's friend Nino Bergstrom to conduct his own investigation but Nino starts to suspect Johnny himself may know more than he lets on...

Meanwhile the ruthless art dealers circle, vying to find the priceless painting stolen from Gaspare's studio. How far would they go to claim it? And are any of them - the macho Triumph Jones, the determined Farina Ahmadi or the disturbed Jobo Kido - involved in the murders, whose publicity is increasing interest in the portrait, and by extension, its value?

As the murderer taunts our detective, Nino realises that the clock is ticking to save the next victim...

This is a depraved tale where history and the present day merge into one and where the basest aspects of humanity - such as competitiveness, ruthlessness, and desire for sex and money - contribute to a horrifying set of circumstances where evil can flourish.

With unforeseen plot twists, a good number of credible suspects and the action played out over different continents, this could be an overwhelming amount of information but the author expertly keeps the reader engaged by drip feeding information - and not a small amount of red herrings! - at a reasonable rate throughout the book. Even in the last few chapters, there are unanticipated revelations, making the reader feel confident in the author's ability to stay one step ahead the whole time. Alex Connor is definitely one to watch.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh
Submitted by Lizzie Hayes (Editor: Mystery People)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2013
I am generally suspicious of novels that are set in two very different time periods as the authors often fail to integrate the two story lines, at least not with any great credibility. Not so with this book. Alex Connor does a great job in bringing a C16th murder mystery into the present day. Her characters are well portrayed and the evil that some of them manifest is really quite chilling. The fact that Venice is one of my favourite cities also added to my enjoyment of this excellent read. I recommend it to anyone who, like me, enjoys a good murder mystery, and one with a strong and interesting historical thread. Fans of the Shardlake books, by the excellent C.J.Sansom, should enjoy this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2013
This book offers a combination of well developed characters and a detailed web of plot lines. The result is another great book from a great author.

I finished the book this afternoon but a couple of times I stopped reading and did something else quite ordinary for a short while, like wander out into the garden or stroke the cat. I wanted to savour the book and not rush to finish it - a little like lingering over a bottle of good wine on a summer's evening. There was a need to take my time over it and feel the story as experienced by Nino and the others.

What makes me read Alex Connor's books - and this one is no exception - is that most works in the thriller/mystery genre focus on trying to get the plot lines correct but Alex does not only get them right she also has good characters who tell the story and live the plots.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2014
Alex Connor is an extremely talented and imaginative writer, and I've enjoyed the other books of hers that I have read (including "The Caravaggio Conspiracy" - another "art world murder mystery thriller"). As always, her prose is vivid and lush, describing emotions and human thought processes powerfully and efficiently. Ms. Connor is an art historian herself and she has written a series of crime novels related to famous historical artists, connecting actual mysteries and scandals of their lives and works to modern day crime thrillers.
Isle of the Dead focuses on a horrific murder mystery from the city of Venice from 1555 connected to a portrait by Titian - the flaying of women. The portrait of the murderer disappears, as does the murderer - both threatened to resurface together - as they do in the present day.
Like Connor's other novels, ISLE OF THE DEAD is a gripping fast-paced, page-turner that takes the reader from back and forth from past to current in an engaging and complex mystery. I'm looking forward to reading Connor's next "art murder mystery thriller" soon.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2013
A couple of days ago I had to make a rather long train journey and was dreading being cooped up on the train on such a beautiful English summer's day. I was delighted when I found out in the station book store that Alex Connor had released a new novel. In the end I was pleased that my train journey gave me some alone time to really get stuck into the book.

If you love a good thriller (and who doesn't, right?) then I would be mightily surprised if this book doesn't fulfil your appetite. The characters are alive in this twisting plot that keeps the pages turning. If you are a fan of Alex Connor then this book should definitely go straight to the top of the your list of books to read. If you are yet to experience one of Alex's thrillers then you should know that they are definitely worth your time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2014
I have read all of Alex Connor's novels - every single one a fantastic read, however, Isle of the Dead has to be the most gripping.

I originally avoided this book as I didn't like the sound of the subject matter. Unfortunately, I had gone through all Alex Connors other works and this was the only remaining one left for me to read, so I got stuck in. The amount of different characters, all of which are three dimensional and believable, is astounding. It of course adds to the subterfuge as there are then more suspects to consider!

There is a nice little twist right at the end, which I am certain you will not expect. Fantastic read and well recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2014
This was the first book that I read, that was written by Alex Connor and I was totally engrossed. I am an avid reader and I have been disillusioned by the reading market in recent years - Alex brought me back!!!! The plot was believable, the characters totally engaging and I'm not sure Roald Dahl could have done and 'unexpected' twist like this...I had no idea!!! More than that though the writing is perfect - there are no pages of stupid metaphors or colloquial language that send you to sleep. Probably my only criticism - I found it too hard to put down - good job I am on holiday!!!!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 March 2014
This is the second Alex Connor I have read, and I have two more waiting on the Kindle :)
If you haven't read any Alex Connor books before, you really are in for a treat. They take place in the Art World and the two I have read, also had a parallel story (set in the past) that runs through the book. This book is as good as the first one I read, (The Caravaggio Conspiracy), with believable characters and lots of twists and turns in the plot - She really can write page turners.

The story has a few gory bits but it is not overdone. It is all about a missing painting, by the old master Titian that has come to light, only to go missing again - the painting, a portrait of a particularly grisly murderer, has several art dealers keen to find it. However, it soon turns into a spree of murders based on the original murders committed in the 16th century by the subject of the portrait. With the last murder scheduled for 01 January, can our unlikely hero find the woman before the killer.......

The ending has a clever twist and was something I hadn't considered when doing my usual thing of 'guessing' whodunit!

A very good book all round and I can't wait to start another of Alex's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2014
This book is truly riveting. A real page turner with a good ending to finish it off and reach a great conclusion.

Alex Connor is a brilliant writer. This is the second of his books I have read and would highly recommend them.
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on 23 April 2014
Downloaded this on the strength of his previous book featuring Rembrant and was not disappointed apart from one little niggle which I can mention without giving any of the plot away: when bodies are found in the waters surrounding Venice it would be more accurate to specify in which canal they were found. The author just describes them as being found in the Lido when he means the lagoon - his researches should have made him realise that the the LIdo is a long thin island with a sandy beach which seperates the inland waterways of Venice fom the Adriatic sea.
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