The Apothecary's House Paperback – 7 Apr 2006
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'Solid, trenchant writing' -- Crimetime
Elegant and witty novel -- Park & Holiday Homes magazine
When an old woman storms into the Rijks Museum demanding the return of her painting, archivist Ruth Braams cannot quell her curiosity. Ruth delves into the history of the piece of looted Nazi art and discovers an enigmatic picture with a disturbing wartime provenance. It also appears that the elderly Lydia is not the only claimant and, against strict bureau regulations, Ruth endeavours to help strengthen her case. Days later, Ruth begins to receive sinister anonymous threats, warning her to stay away from Lydia and the painting. As the threats escalate, Ruth realises that there must be far more to the painting's popularity, and she enters into a series of increasingly lethal adventures as she investigates the painting's secret symbolism . . . A brilliant evocation of Amsterdam that combines fascinating historical detail with a cast of sharply realised characters - a fast-paced, finely crafted, riveting mystery. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
I was impatient to turn the pages of this long novel and found the climax both unexpected and satisfactory. What curbed my impatience to read fast, however, was the inventiveness of Mathews's descriptions and the expressions his narrator and his characters use; the sort one wants to file and use oneself one day. It is novel too that taught me something, made me think and made me laugh. All that and a veritable Ali-Baba's cave of language treasures too. A pity the title and dust jacket are not nearly as attractive as the contents of the book.
Firstly, this is a long book, at 700 pages. Don't let that put you off, the language is flowing and easy to read, so it did not take me long to get through the whole thing. The entire book is set in one city and time is taken to get to know the characters,especially Ruth Braams, who works as an art researcher. Ruth grows and changes as a character throughout the story, which gives the book a real depth.
I would have liked a little more adventure and some editing of some of the more long winded sections where nothing happens.
All in all, a good read, but beware of the misleading cover.
Firstly this book took about three attempts before I could get through it. I decided to persevere as certain sections went at a reasonable pace. Overall the storyline should have leant itself to about 300 pages. Some of the other 400 odd were turgid to say the least and certain sections were just plain silly.
At no time did I care for the characters and I found the author's attempts to inject humour, historical data or scene setting rather banal. It takes skill to wander away from the main thread of the story and sadly that is a skill Mr Mathews doesn't possess.
The storyline is reasonable. An old lady lays claim to a rather strange painting, but there is another claimant and it soon becomes obvious that the two know each other. The painting has a history far and away beyond its relevance as a work of art.
The book blurb tells us that the main character receives sinister and anonymous threats. Again at times these just border on the outright silly. The book can't decide whether it wants to be a code cracker or an adventure story and it drops sadly between the two.
The dialogue at times is dreadful. When you have a main character who makes such exclamations as " Jumping Jehosophat, " "Holy hollyhocks" and "take a hike you scurvy varlet" you know you really are in la la land. Other parts of the dialogue are also corny in the extreme and when the "plot" is unravelled it really comes as no surprise and leaves more of an empty feeling than one of achievement and contentment.
Still I suppose that if you like slow paced thrillers where the ending can be seen from a million miles, this could be the one for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very atmospheric, holds your attention all the way through. Well researched.Published 3 months ago by D.D.
Great mystery, full of twists. If you are traveling to Amsterdam it is especially fun to read about the city.Published 11 months ago by jawad abu-lughod
Thoroughly enjoyable. Its a story full of twists and turns and whilst a little unbelievable in places provided a good read.Published 11 months ago by Over60
Love this book so much i got it in digital and hardback in both english and spanishPublished 11 months ago by Cynthia
Credible characters, interesting setting and lifelike plotting. A story of lives wasted in petty posturing and a story of hope.Published 12 months ago by iShop
This novel by an author new to me turned out to be a rich tapestry of intrigue and atmosphere. Amsterdam is evoked in beautiful descriptive passages until I felt I could walk... Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2013 by Dollygrip
This book is a mystery because it is hard to tell whether it is supposed to be a thriller, an historical treatise or a philosophical work. Read morePublished on 18 Nov. 2011 by Diane Clifford