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Fairly unconvincing historical/art thriller.
on 15 February 2013
Well, I did like the brief historical flashbacks to Hogarth, but most of the time there's not much art involved and the majority of the novel is set in modern times. Victor and Tully are tolerably engaging characters, but essentially wander through the book, only taking any kind of decisive action at the very end. Much play is made of the danger to the monarchy posed by the lost Hogarth painting, but this felt completely unconvincing to me. Yes, the revelation of the existence of a royal bastard in the 1700s would briefly generate a lot of publicity, perhaps some of it negative, but it's hard to imagine this threatening the position of the royal family in the 21st Century. And if there's no threat to the royal family, a lot of the action in the story makes no sense.
I was equally unconvinced by the eventual unmasking of the main killer, which felt very much like a rabbit out of a hat, since the character drawn earlier in the book appeared utterly incapable of the vicious murders they are supposed to have committed. In general, the book degenerates towards the end as a mess of disconnected motives and actions are revealed to be behind several of the murders and thefts throughout the book. Over the last few pages it feels as if Connor was unwilling to draw a line under the story as she drags out a sketch of the six or seven years following the end of the main action that contains a big revelation, but one that is meaningless to the novel.