Death of an Old Master


“Excellent. . . . Dickinson's knowledge of the arts, history and literature is nothing if not exhaustive, and adds enormously.”—Publishers Weekly

“Fine prose, high society and a complex plot recommend this series.”—Library Journal

Original or fake, masterpiece or forgery: misadventure or murder?

England 1899, and the Salisbury Galleries in London announce the biggest exhibition of “Old Master” paintings ever ...

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Death of an Old Master

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“Excellent. . . . Dickinson's knowledge of the arts, history and literature is nothing if not exhaustive, and adds enormously.”—Publishers Weekly

“Fine prose, high society and a complex plot recommend this series.”—Library Journal

Original or fake, masterpiece or forgery: misadventure or murder?

England 1899, and the Salisbury Galleries in London announce the biggest exhibition of “Old Master” paintings ever seen in Europe. Excitement is intense, but before the exhibition opens, one of Britain's leading art experts, Christopher Montague, is found dead in his study. When Lord Francis Powerscourt is called in to investigate, he finds that every book, notepad, and scrap of paper has been removed from the scene of the crime. Montague had been working on something that would have rocked the art world. Did the article that claimed a number of the “Old Masters” had been painted recently by a single hand have anything to do with his death?

Powerscourt embarks on an odyssey through a treacherous world of art dealers and picture restorers in pursuit of a master forger. He travels to Sicily where the trail grows cold, but, after the thrills and dangers of that lawless island, it is in a remote corner of the English countryside where the truth is finally revealed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Dickinson's third well-paced Victorian mystery (after 2003's Death and the Jubilee), devoted family man Lord Francis Powerscourt investigates the murder of a distant relative, art historian Christopher Montague, found garroted in his London flat. Suspects abound, from both the victim's personal and professional life. Powerscourt soon learns that Montague was having an affair with the wife of an older man who vanishes right after the body's discovery. The murderer's theft of all the scholar's papers suggests that their rumored contents, which would disclose a sophisticated and extensive forged-art ring, motivated the killer. The aristocrat is his usual quick study as he infiltrates the world of the dealers peddling the work of the Old Masters, and he uses his network of sources, including his wife, to find proof of the frauds targeting American nouveaux riches. After a second murder by strangulation, the noose appears to tighten around the cuckold, whose trial in classic Perry Mason fashion becomes the vehicle for the disclosure of the truth with a plausible fair-play solution that will satisfy traditional mystery fans. Dickinson nicely blends action and dogged sleuthing, and his husband-wife pair of detectives is both more personable and believable than similar Victorian duos created by Anne Perry and Robin Paige. This neatly plotted effort should gain him wider notice and the larger readership he deserves. (Feb. 2) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1899 London, Edmund de Courcy nearly loses everything when his father's will divides the heavily mortgaged family estate between two families. By studying art, joining a London art gallery, and selling paintings to self-important traveling American millionaires, he hopes to regain his expected inheritance. Investigator Powerscourt enters when an art critic who threatens to expose forgeries in de Courcy's gallery is murdered. Further murder leads to the unmasking of a master forger, himself the pawn of adversity. Dickinson's third Powerscourt mystery (after Goodnight, Sweet Prince and Death and the Jubilee) features a great story, interesting tidbits about various Victorian painters, and a most engaging protagonist. Highly recommended. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Investigator Lord Francis Powerscourt often complains about his wife Lucy's extended family, but her connections prove invaluable when he's drawn into the murder of her cousin, art critic Christopher Montague. In 1899, the relatively new de Courcy and Piper Gallery sponsors a highly successful exhibition of Venetian paintings-Old Masters whose value on the art market, driven by railroad and steel nouveaux riches from the US, is just beginning to take off. Whatever the source of their wealth, Edmund de Courcy and William Alaric Piper are delighted with both the Americans' acquisitiveness and their ignorance of art. Critic Christopher Montague, however, hoping his own lack of ignorance will lead to lucrative work, is putting the finishing touches on an expose of Old Master forgeries when someone garrotes him. Beyond the shady characters in the London art world, Powerscourt finds a wide range of suspects, including the husband of one of Montague's lovers, on a pilgrimage to hear Evensong in every cathedral in England. As with Old Master portraits, acute background details (attempted assassination in Corsica, a Norfolk family disinherited by a expatriate patriarch, a penniless painter winning and losing a fortune at the casino) often prove more compelling than the figures in the foreground. Though much of the rich detail here ends up having little to do with the murder, readers will enjoy the whole picture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569475485
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Series: Lord Francis Powerscourt Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Dickinson has an honors degree in Classics from Cambridge. Working for the BBC, he became editor of Newsnight and Panorama, as well as series editor of Monarchy. He is the author of eight mysteries in the Lord Powerscourt series. He lives in Barnes, West London, UK.

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Table of Contents

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