Soho, Oct 2008, $25.00
The Director of the London National Gallery approves art historian Reggie Lee’s concept to display three “original” works of artist Caravaggio, who created in 1605 the altarpiece St. Cecilia and the Angel and subsequently made two copies. She knows that the Getty and the Louvre each have one and assumes it should prove no problem to find the third.
Shockingly, Louvre Italian masterpiece administrator Antoine Rigaut refuses to loan the museum’s copy. Since lending is a normal practice, Reggie goes to Paris to plead her case in person with Rigaut. However, he avoids her like she has the plague until he is found dead, an apparent suicide. Reggie is further stunned when a seemingly fourth copy surfaces. This makes her believe one of the originals is a fake; perhaps created in 1937 when the Louvre copy was recovered after being stolen. When the English expert meets Rigaut’s mother, she begins to learn the true early twentieth century history of St. Cecilia and the Angel.
CARAVAGGIO'S ANGEL is an excellent art mystery starring a likable protagonist who goes from art historian to amateur sleuth in her efforts to learn the truth. The story line is fast-paced with the historical aspects adding a terific taste of the early seventeenth century art world and the not so rare museum thefts of the early twentieth century from a modern perspective. Ruth Brandon provides a wonderful thriller that hopefully will lead to more blending of masterpieces with mysteries.