Raymond Belvedon is a young subaltern in 1944, advancing with the troops across Normandy, when he encounters a burning château. Recently occupied by a Nazi commander, the château is now deserted, and on the wall Raymond sees a small painting of Pandora unleashing the seven deadly sins from her famous box. Thinking he's found a Raphael, Raymond takes it from the frame and escapes. Four decades pass and Raymond has now established himself as a top art dealer with his own prestigious gallery in Mayfair. The picture of Pandora is the pride of his impressive Cotswold home where his six children were born. But he has a surprise in store: another grown child makes an appearance with her seductive boyfriend, Zac. The latter has designs on Raymond's Raphael. Under cover of a firework party, the Raphael goes missing.
Cooper's breathless narrative whisks the reader from London to Vienna, Geneva, Paris and New York in the hunt for the missing painting, building towards a sharply handled court case and a tense sale at Sotheby's. Cooper's territory here is the international art world, which has all the pre-requisite angles for Cooper-style drama, with its duplicitous dealers, avaricious artists and casual morality. There are some strong new protagonists here, such as the selfish artist Sienna, and Cooper also includes some familiar characters (including her trademark beguiling animals). Raymond, too, is one of her most richly drawn creations. Cooper fans need not hesitate. --Barry Forshaw
"The whole thing is a riot - vastly superior to anything else in a glossy cover" (Daily Telegraph)
"This is Jilly in top form with her most sparkling novel to date" (Evening Standard)
"One reads her for her joie de vivre, her maudlin romanticism, her love of arty references and her razor sharp sense of humour. Oh, and the sex" (New Statesman)
"Cooper is astute when describing the complex relationships between men and women. She's also on the nail when it comes to teenage-speak and can bring the English countryside alive more deftly than many literary stars... She's irresistible... Like Harvey Nicks and the promise of romantic dalliance, she frees you from the daily drudge and deposits you in an alternative universe where love, sex and laughter rule" (Independent on Sunday)