In the memorable 1965 film The Agony and the Ecstasy, based on Irving Stone’s book, an intense Michelangelo paints God on the Sistine Chapel ceiling and rants at Pope Julius II.
Decades later, legions of authors still seek to capture the art world’s passionate historical figures like Michelangelo or weave fictional tapestries that reimagine its lavish auctions, charismatic stars, shocking Nazi revelations, or brazen heists. Kirkus recently reviewed three intricate novels that explore the fraught intersection of money and art.
In Larry Witham’s Gallery Pieces, Julian Peale, an art restorer, discovers his grandfather’s efforts as one of the Monuments Men, the band of soldiers who recovered stolen artworks during World War II. But Julian then finds disturbing clues that may connect his relative to looting. A “well-developed novel about the art world that’s an exuberant, satisfying read,” our reviewer writes.
Tom Kenny’s The Docent involves the real-life theft of priceless works from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. His tale flashes to events more than a decade later, with Judge Zelia Valdes presiding over a costly family squabble. After the worried patriarch orders his attorney to investigate Valdes, the lawyer’s minions tie her to the unsolved museum crime. Our critic calls the thriller “sharp and suspenseful.”
Interest ina decades-old case resurfaces after a murder in Montana in artist Mary Ann Cherry’s Death on Canvas. Cherry introduces painter and sleuth Jessie O’Bourne, who looks into the disappearance of two valuable Thomas Moran works. The author “brings her artistic expertise” to the mystery genre, our reviewer writes. “Jessie sees the world in vibrant splashes of color waiting to be recreated on canvas.”
Myra Forsberg is an Indie editor.