In Pearce’s thriller, a man caught in the middle of a search for World War II war treasures and a murder plot finds himself re-examining his own past tragedies.
Jen’s father is killed in a hit-and-run one sunny Florida afternoon. Upon going through his belongings, she finds a letter from him addressed to the father of someone she once knew. After World War II, the two older men worked together recovering art stolen by the Nazis. Jen travels to Paris to hand-deliver her father’s letter even though she and Eddie, the addressee’s son, had a three-day tryst a decade ago and have not spoken since. Both older men appear to have been the victims of murder relating to a conspiracy to uncover the whereabouts of a lost Raphael painting, which they’d nearly found. With the help of a historian and several close friends from Eddie’s Army days, Eddie and Jen set out on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth and possibly the painting. Their quest takes them back to Sarasota, Fla., described in all its humidity and heat. Eddie’s relationship with Jen gives the reader ample insight into her all-too-human character as well. In his debut novel, Pearce keeps secrets from his characters and readers alike; the plot twist at midpoint successfully changes the landscape of the story, in this case both literally and figuratively. The conclusion’s final reveal lacks closure for this particular mystery, the strange breaking point indicating either a harsh reality most novels shy away from or the promise of a sequel. The romantic conclusion likewise feels rushed and surprising.
An engaging mystery about lost-Nazi war loot and contemporary murders that recalls other popular international thrillers of the past decade.