The Flanders Panel
Arturo Pérez-Reverte Pages: 295 Published:1990
The book: Julia, an art restorer, is working on a fifteenth-century painting by a Flemish master. She uncovers an unusual inscription hidden within the painting. It reads: “Who killed the knight?” The painting depicts the Duke of Flanders and his knight playing chess. It turns out the Knight was murdered. People around Julia begin to die under mysterious circumstances. Are their deaths connected to the painting she is restoring? Can she solve the 500-year-old crime?
You might like it because: It’s an unusual whodunit that twists and turns its way from the 15th century to the 20th century. There are many red herrings, blind alleys, and dead ends that will keep the reader guessing.
What did other people say?
“Paradoxes and puzzles abound. A sleek, sophisticated, madly clever chamber mystery about chess, life, and art.” – The New York Times Book Review
“An intriguing, multilayered thriller.”- Publishers Weekly
Awards & Recognition:
Grand Prix Annuel de Litterature Policiere (French literary prize for crime and detective fiction)
How quickly will you get into the book?
By page twenty-five my interest was definitely piqued. I was truly hooked by page fifty.
You might not like it because: The painting at the heart of the mystery features a game of chess. As a result, there is a lot of discussion about various chess moves and strategies, which some readers might find tedious at times.
What might you read next?
If you’d like to read another story involving an old painting, pick up Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which won a Pulitzer Prize.
Pérez-Reverte was asked in an interview which authors inspired him. He named Umberto Eco. You could read his first book, which is also a murder mystery, The Name of the Rose.
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