The New York Times
Caravaggio's Angelby Ruth Brandon
Dr. Reggie Lee, new at London’s National Gallery, is planning a small exhibition of three almost identical Caravaggio paintings when she discovers a fourth. One must be a forgery. That discovery detonates multiple murders. Like Flavia di Stefano in Iain Pears’ art history mysteries, Reggie is attractive, knowledgeable when it comes to art, and percipient… See more details below
Dr. Reggie Lee, new at London’s National Gallery, is planning a small exhibition of three almost identical Caravaggio paintings when she discovers a fourth. One must be a forgery. That discovery detonates multiple murders. Like Flavia di Stefano in Iain Pears’ art history mysteries, Reggie is attractive, knowledgeable when it comes to art, and percipient when it comes to people with motives to defraud.
Ruth Brandon divides her time between London and France. She is working on the second title in this series. She previously published Surreal Lives: The Surrealists, 1917–1945, a work of nonfiction.
From the Hardcover edition.
The New York Times
Art, war, love and loss all figure in Brandon's enjoyable first in a series featuring art historian Reggie Lee. Recently hired by London's National Gallery, Reggie gets the approval of the museum's director to exhibit a 1605 Caravaggio altarpiece, St. Cecilia and the Angel, along with the two copies the artist made, one of which is at the Getty, the other at the Louvre. When Antoine Rigaut, the Louvre's Italian collection administrator, refuses the loan, Reggie travels to Paris to confront Rigaut, who proves elusive and later turns up dead, an apparent suicide. Reggie eventually locates Riguat's elderly mother, a remarkable woman who holds the key to the complex history of the Louvre's copy of St. Cecilia and the Angel, which was stolen and soon after recovered in 1937. When a third copy of the painting surfaces, Reggie really has her work cut out for her. Brandon is the author of Surreal Lives: The Surrealists, 1917-1945 and other works of nonfiction. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
What should have been an easy job of setting up a small exhibition of three Caravaggio paintings of St. Cecilia and the Angel for London's National Gallery becomes a nightmare of intrigue and danger for curator Reggie Lee when a fourth copy of the painting emerges. Is this one a fake? And then people start to die. As Reggie investigates why someone wants to stop her show, she becomes entangled in French politics and art museum machinations. In her mystery debut, historian Brandon (Surreal Lives: The Surrealists, 1917-1945) ties it all up at the end in a neat package but devotes so much of the book to a rehashing of facts that she may lose a few readers along the way. For larger collections where art mysteries are popular.
Jo Ann Vicarel
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Ruth Brandon divides her time between London and France. She is working on the second title in this series.
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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. ---- Harriet Klausner
Ruth Brandon's CARAVAGGIO'S ANGEL is the first in a series featuring Reggie (Regina) Lee, a curator at the National Gallery in London. Reggie is new to the National Gallery and she wants to make her mark by organizing an exhibition of the three paintings of "St. Cecilia and the Angel" by Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio from the town in which he was born. One of the paintings is owned by the Louvre and another is at the Getty Museum. Reggie believes she can locate the third, believed to be held privately. Reggie's planned exhibition is, at first, met with cooperation and enthusiasm. The Louvre and the Getty agree to loan their paintings until, suddenly and without explanation, the directors of the Louvre withdraw their permission. Reggie travels to Paris, determined that the exhibit will go on. Complications include events during the occupation of France during WWII, a suicide, a present-day political campaign, a few murders, and a fourth painting that signals that one of the known paintings is a fake. The author has provided a considerable amount of information about the techniques used by art historians which I found very interesting. The conclusion is unexpected. The details of "St Cecilia and the Angel" seem to refer to a painting attributed to Carlo Saracini, a contemporary of Caravaggio.