THE TEMPEST by Juan Manuel de Prada


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An art historian’s dangerous trip to Venice produces both enlightenment and disillusionment.

In this (Planeta) prizewinning 1997 Spanish novel, Alejandro Ballesteros arrives planning to study <\I>The Tempest, a richly imagistic canvas painted by the Renaissance master Giorgione, which, local academics and connoisseurs murmur, “represents the mystery of Venice,” a city in which “catastrophes do not actually occur . . . and it is the threat of what might happen, but doesn’t, that makes us anxious and apprehensive.” Well, yes and no, for Alejandro witnesses a murder, suffers the attentions of unidentified thugs, painstakingly unravels subsidiary mysteries involving the murdered man’s personal effects, a lissome art student (who was the victim’s protégé, if not more) and matches wits with a Javert– and Columbo–like police inspector. It’s fun, but it’s also turgid and de Prada’s insistent use of garish and sometimes stomach-churning visual images makes the going even rougher. In the tradition, as they say, of Eco and Pérez-Reverte, but hardly in their league.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 2003
ISBN: 1-58567-387-0
Page count: 341pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2003