The Black Madonna
Howard (Simon and Schuster), Sep 7 2010, $14.99
In Palm Beach, Storm Syrrell fears her business Syrrell Galleries is nearing bankruptcy when a person hires her to attend an auction that includes a painting that her client believes has healing powers. When she arrives at the auction house, she bids against Mr. Rausch, who also represents someone else. However, Storm’s instructions are to get the painting at any cost.
Storm knows her business has been saved by the buyer’s agent Raphael Danton. However her friend Emma, high up the power ladder at Homeland Security is sent to be with Storm because Raphael Danton, he opposing bidder’s agent is on a watch list. Emma is told that treasure hunter Harry Bennet died in Hebron; she is heartbroken with grief until he calls her from a hospital. She leaves Storm to see first hand that her Harry is okay; Emma takes him to a hospital in Germany. Emma rejoins Storm who with a few more auction bids with the same people and results, she is taken to Poland where she sees for herself the Black Madonna is a fake. They need to get it back at all costs again but somehow Harry’s injuries Storm’s winning bids are linked, but nothing makes sense even who is the bidder competing with Storm.
Davis Bunn has written an exciting thriller in which readers will be hard pressed to determine who the protagonists and the antagonist are. The key characters travel to several countries doing their respective jobs. Armchair detectives will enjoy the ride but find it difficult to putting the puzzle together. Storm is a fabulous heroine who misplaces her courage when she is frightened and instinctively prefers flight but has the curage not to run while the relationship between Emma and Harry ads warmth and romance. Readers will enjoy the return engagement of Harry and Storm (see Gold of Kings).