I was going through a pile of books a friend returned to me and I came across a copy of The Flanders Panel. It was clearly mine but I didn’t recall having read it, so, as I was on a break I decided to settle in for a read, and what a read it turned out to be!!
The only dilemma I have in writing up this review – because I really do want you to search out a copy and have a read – is how to do it without giving away too much of the totally intriguing and mesmerizing plot!
The central character of the story is a very talented art restorer named Julia who is given The Game of Chess by the 15th century Flemish artist Pieter Van Huys (a fictionalized work of art) to clean prior to it going to auction. From the time of her receipt of the painting Perez-Reverte takes us on the most ingenious, gripping and highly original crime thriller I have ever read.
Perez-Reverte takes the actual game of chess that the characters in the painting are playing and turns the story from what could have been a mediocre art thriller into a multilayered piece of genius. As I said at the beginning, the challenge lies in enticing you to read the book without giving away too much of the plot.
Julia discovers a hidden inscription which draws together an eclectic but tightly bound group of individuals, all with their own complicated self-interest. Gradually, Perez-Reverte reveals why the game of chess is central to the mystery of the painting’s inscription and weaves a tail of death, deception, loyalty, revenge and sadness.
Arturo Perez-Reverte is a master story-teller. I could not put the book down (and yes, it was a book) and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you are a chess player, then you will really be engrossed by the ‘game’ that is being played: you will understand the meaning of the word ‘game’ as you read the book. If you are not. it doesn’t matter. There are twists and turns and a conclusion I guarantee you will not pick. I can’t wait for this to be turned into a movie, provided of course, they stay true to the story and the cast has to be very well chosen.
Find this book and make certain you set aside some time – you won’t be able to put it down!!!