28.7.13

THE RAPHAEL AFFAIR, by Iain Pears

A new series by the author of An Instance of the Fingerpost (which I read long ago but I remember it as a 5), stars Italian art detective General Bottando, his sexy and totally competent assistant Flavia di Stefano, and the handsome, mysterious art historian Johnathan Argyll. Set primarily in fabulously intricate and corrupt Rome, the story unfolds across Europe, fetching up in London. Author Pears has marvelous facility with art history (well, he ought to, he teaches it), the machinations of legitimate and unsavory characters, and a really fine eye for intrigue. Argyll claims to have found a missing Raphael, which subsequently vanishes, then turns up, then is burned, then - possibly? - appears once again. This entire series is a lot of fun, with beautifully-developed characters and a wonderful sense of place. These are, for me, a perfect read: 5 for all of them.