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Da Vinci's Last Commission: The Most Sensational Detective Story in the History of Art Hardcover – 16 Aug 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (16 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780571135
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780571133
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A must for fans of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code" (Scottish Field)

"Riveting . . . Not only does the book open an informed and interesting debate on the evidential history of Jesus, but it will also get people discussing art" (Estelle Lovatt Art of England)

Book Description

A remarkable true story that reveals how a mysterious Renaissance oil painting inadvertently led to one of the world's greatest heresies of the last two thousand years

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read this unusual book through twice now. I knew it would interest me as part of it, is about the Cathars . So called heretics of the thirteenth century for whome I have a profound admiration . But I now know something about the Culdees, who were much earlyer ,also sometimes called ''The snail men". The charm of the book is that one is lead on a most interesting detective trail through two thousand years of history by secret symbols in the painting. Very cleverly deciphered by the author . Also an old engraving and a rare old map of the South of France which came with the painting, are there to tell another part of the story. The map most probablly has more secrets to tell .. the reader is asked to help .
.To me, Fiona Mclaren fully merits five stars for this one..
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Format: Paperback
I usually read fiction but found this book akin to a treasure hunt for the truth about Christ and truly engrossing. Fiona Mclaren has succeeded in conveying the excitement of her journey and had me feverishly turning the pages. Her background is so interesting and the way the painting at the center of the narrative came into her hands, along with other artifacts, all linking and contributing to her thesis, is an added bonus. Her tantalising conclusions are credible as they are based on years of research. I loved the analysis of the art and the history. All in all I thoroughly recommend this as a myth-busting read.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this a rather tedious read, and could only bring myself to skim read the second half. The author seems to lack basic judgment. There is a tendency to decide something is so because the author wants it to be, with no evidence to back it up. One example is her comment on Leonardo's sexuality; no serious author doubts that he was exclusively, or predominantly, homosexual in nature. There are a several indications of this from his life, which are simply ignored by the author. The fact that McLaren "doesn't like to think about it" is neither here nor there. There are plenty of really good books available about Leonardo and his art. This isn't one of them. Kenneth (Lord) Clark's excellent and insightful book is still on sale. Buy that, and don't waste your money on this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The reviews here are clearly divided, two-tailed. Having read thousands of Amazon reviews, I've found that this almost always indicates that there is some important truth in the book, whether or not that truth is surrounded by inferior material; and that this truth challenges academic norms. Actually this book is a gold mine, with a certain amount of detritus, which almost always happens when one strikes gold. The reviews from readers who love the book, and see it as a good treasure-hunt for truth, are too short to discern much. The more detailed critical reviews fail to notice the profusion of pearls in the "gush". At this point, I can do no better than point UK readers to the magnificent Amazon.com review by "Taxus" which beautifully says everything about just how special a book this is. Go to the bottom of the page here, just below all the reviews, and click the link to open up the American Amazon.com page of reviews.

For those that think that Taxus and I and other eulogisers are just gullible, and that the book has problems, please read on. I have some criticisms and they need a bit more explanation.

Fiona McLaren inherited an extraordinary gift from her father - actually a cache of related artefacts, of which the most significant is a beautiful and mysterious painting that some experts have estimated could be an unknown Da Vinci original, or at least have the master's hand on it. It was bequeathed to her father, a GP, by one of his patients, a high-ranking Mason. The fact that he bequeathed, to a non-Mason, what could well be his own most precious heritage, suggests volumes about the integrity of Fiona's father, and by association, her own integrity - which becomes clear as the book opens.
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Format: Hardcover
I like a good bit of conspiracy history as much as anyone. Some of the wild ideas people come up with are actually quite thought provoking. Unfortunately this book only provoked me into feelings of irritation.

I should have been put off by the fact that the author starts with pages of biographical stuff about how wonderful her father was, and by the breathless, rather gushy writing style. Then there's the comment that there is "plenty of evidence" that Mary Magdalene (yes, that lady gets everywhere these days) went to France. There is no evidence. There are only plenty of myths. Ms McLaren clearly has no idea how to indulge in the basic academic activity of separating primary and secondary sources, and discarding fairy tales.

And not much idea about art, either. Does she really think the Madonna reproduced here could be by da Vinci (the poor fellow must be revolving in his grave) or even one of his pupils? You have only to look, for a start, and the claw like left hand and then the right hand, half obscured by the baby. The sausage like thumb and first half finger of the right hand is above the baby's own right arm and way below it, with no pretence at proportion, are the remaining (slender) three fingers. If da Vinci painted this his genius must have left him in his latter years.

I bought my book from a charity shop, and it will shortly return there. Judging from some of these reviews there are actually people out there who enjoy this kind of "sensational (fictional) detective story".

As someone once said, there's one born every minute......
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