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"Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul."
—Edgar Allan Poe
Twenty Years Ago
Time played tricks on him whenever he stood in front of the easel. Hypnotized by the rhythm of the brush on the canvas, by one color merging into another, the two shades creating a third, the third melting into a fourth, he was lulled into a state of single-minded consciousness focused only on the image emerging. Immersed in the act of painting, he forgot obligations, missed classes, didn't remember to eat or to drink or look at the clock. This was why, at 5:25 that Friday evening, Lucian Glass was rushing down the urine-stinking steps to the gloomy subway platform when he should have already been uptown where Solange Jacobs was waiting for him at her father's framing gallery. Together, they planned to walk over to an exhibit a block away, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
When he reached the store, the shade was drawn and the Closed sign faced out, but the front door wasn't locked. Inside, none of the lamps were lit, but there was enough ambient twilight coming through the windows for him to see that Solange wasn't there, only dozens and dozens of empty frames, encasing nothing but pale yellow walls, crowded shoulder-to-shoulder, waiting to be filled like lost souls looking for mates.
As he hurried toward the workroom in the back, the commingled smells of glue and sawdust grew stronger and, except for his own voice calling out, the silence louder.
Stopping on the threshold, he looked around but saw only more empty frames. Where was she? And why was she here alone? Lucian was walking toward the worktable, wondering if there was another room back there, when he saw her. Solange was sprawled on the floor, thrown against a large, ornate frame as if she were its masterpiece, her blood splattered on its broken gold arms, a still life in terror. There were cuts on her face and hands and more blood pooled beneath her.
Kneeling, he touched her shoulder. "Solange?"
Her eyes stayed closed but she offered a ghost of a smile.
While he was thinking of what to do first—help her or call 9II—she opened her eyes and lifted her hand to her cheek. Her fingertips came away red with blood.
"Cut?" she asked, as if she had no idea what had happened.
"Promise," she whispered, "you won't paint me like this "
Solange had a crescent-shaped scar on her forehead and was forever making sure her bangs covered it. Then, catching herself, she'd laugh at her vanity. That laugh now came out as a moan.
When her eyes fluttered closed, Lucian put his head on her chest. He couldn't hear a heartbeat. Putting his mouth over hers, he attempted resuscitation, frantically mimicking what he'd seen people do in movies, not sure he was doing it right.
He thought he saw her hand move and had a moment of elation that she was going to be all right before realizing it was only his reflection moving in the frame. His head back on her chest, he listened but heard nothing. As he lay there, Solange's blood seeping out of her wound, soaking his hair and shirt, he felt a short, fierce burst of wind.
Lucian was tall but thin just a skinny kid studying to be a painter. He didn't know how to defend himself, didn't know how to deflect the knife that came down, ripping through his shirt and flesh and muscle. Again. And then again. So many times that finally he wasn't feeling the pain; he was the pain, had become the agony. Making an effort to stay focused, as if somehow that would matter, he tried to memorize all the colors of the scene around him: his attacker's shirtsleeve was ochre, Solange's skin was titanium white he was drifting
There were voices next, very far-off and indistinct. Lucian tried to grasp what they were saying. " extensive blood loss "
" multiple stab wounds "
He was traveling away from the words. Or were they traveling away from him? Were the people leaving him alone here? Didn't they realize he was hurt? No, they weren't leaving him they were lifting him. Moving him. He felt cool air on his face. Heard traffic.
Their voices were becoming more indistinct.
" can't get a pulse "
"We're losing him quick, quick. We're losing him " The distance between where he was and where they were increased with every second. The words were just faint whispers now, as soft as a wisp of Solange's hair. "Too late he's gone."
The last thing he heard was one paramedic telling the other the time was 6:59 p.m. A silence entered Lucian, filling him up and giving him, at last, respite from the pain.
The building on Fortieth Street and Third Avenue was a series of cantilevered glass boxes. Upstairs on the sixteenth floor, in an opulent office inconsistent with the modern structure, three men were on a conference call with a fourth via a secure phone line. It was an unnecessary precaution. When the mission of Iran to the UN had rented this space, they'd torn down the walls so they could properly insulate against long-range distance microphones. But one could never be too cautious, especially on foreign soil.
A fog of smoke hung over the windowless conference room table and the odor of heavy tobacco overwhelmed Ali Samimi. He hated the stink of the Cuban cigars but he wasn't in charge here and couldn't complain. He coughed. Coughed again. It was so like his boss to blow the smoke in his direction, despite knowing he was sensitive to it. Farid Taghinia was one mean motherfucking son of a bitch. Samimi stifled the smile that just thinking the American curse words brought to his lips.
"We have no trouble working with the British, the French or the Austrians. Only with the Americans do complications and conflict continue to arise. Haven't I been generous in offering to allow the museum to keep the sculpture for the opening of their new wing? Haven't they seen the documents we provided proving the sculpture was stolen? Why are they still hesitating?" Even though his voice was traveling six thousand miles, from Tehran to Manhattan, Hicham Nassir's puzzlement was perceptible.
"Because I haven't shown them the documents," said Vartan Reza, a craggy-faced, Iranian-born American lawyer who specialized in cultural heritage cases. It had been almost two years since the mission had hired Reza to orchestrate the return of a piece of sculpture currently owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the basis that it had been illegally taken out of Iran over a hundred years before. The lawyer had hesitated in accepting the case until Taghinia had made it clear that a generous fee would not be the lawyer's only recompense. The members of Reza's family still living in Tehran would be well provided for, too.
If Samimi had respected Taghinia at all, he would have been impressed by his boss's cunning—offering a generous bonus wrapped around a threat. Instead it made him all the more nervous about watching his own back.
"Didn't show them the papers? Why is that?" demanded Taghinia from the opposite end of the table as he put the Cuban up to his mouth and inhaled again.
"I have some questions about their authenticity," Reza explained. "And I don't want to turn anything over to the museum's attorneys that might prove embarrassing and hurt our case."
Taghinia picked a piece of tobacco off his thick lips, blinked his lizard-brown eyes and started tapping his foot on the carpet. "Questions?" Tap, tap. "Questions at this point are not a good thing, Mr. Reza." Tap, tap. "Our government is losing patience."
"Regardless, it's not in your best interest to have me proceed rashly."
Taghinia glared at Samimi as if this was somehow the underling's fault. The only real civility and cooperation between Iran and America was in the cultural arena, and if this issue dragged on and became an international incident it wouldn't help either country's already strained diplomatic efforts.
"Were you aware of this?" he asked.
"I don't care if Samimi knew about it or not. I want to know what's wrong with the documents." Nassir's voice drew everyone's attention back to the squawk box in the middle of the highly polished ebony table.
"I don't believe they're authentic," Reza said.
"What?" Taghinia's face flushed with an emotion that read as outrage but that Samimi suspected was guilt.
"That's impossible," said Nassir. "Reza, do you understand? That's impossible."
Samimi had never heard the minister of culture so upset. Nassir had studied art history at Oxford and had published two books on Islamic art that had each been translated into more than twenty languages. Nassir had once said that he believed every piece in Iran's museum was a member of his family and it was up to him to safeguard them all.
"The partage agreement that details the fate of the objects found at the Susa excavations is dated I885," Reza said.
"Yes?" Nassir asked.
"The paper it's written on was manufactured in I9I0," Reza explained. "Impossible."
"I'm afraid not. I've had two experts test it."
"But there are corroborating records," the minister argued.
"None that mention this piece by name or description, Mr. Nassir. For the past eighteen months, we've been operating on the assumption that these papers were authentic. We've built our whole case on them. This is a serious setback."
At the heart of Iran's request was an eight-foot-tall chryselephantine statue of the Greek god Hypnos, the god of sleep, which neither Samimi nor anyone else on the phone call had ever seen. According to art historians, some of the best chryselephantine sculpture came from the city of Delphi, which had been looted by the Phokians in the mid-fourth century BCE. The Phokians had sold some of the treasures to raise money and pay troops; others they melted to make coins. It was believed that a Persian satrap or king in Susa had bought Hypnos when the Phokians reached the east and that, at some point after that, the statue had been buried. It might have been hidden during an attack to save it from more looters because of the amount of gold, ivory and precious stones that decorated it, or stolen again and hidden by the thief. No one knew, but the result was that it had survived practically intact until the 1880s.
"What about the treaty?" Nassir asked.
Samimi had also given Reza a copy of a treaty dated April I2, I885, that granted France the exclusive right to excavate the area of Shush, which was on the ancient site of Susa. "That's authentic, but since we have no proof of when Hypnos was found, only when it was shipped out of the country, it's useless."
"It was discovered prior to April. The American collector bought looted art," Taghinia insisted. He turned and looked at Samimi, then blew out more of the toxic smoke.
Samimi knew he couldn't logically be blamed for this latest snafu. Nassir had sent the documents in question to America via the diplomatic pouch. But Taghinia was going to need someone to blame and the case had been Samimi's responsibility for the past year and a half. He knew more about the history of the hypnotist than anyone here but Reza.
When the American collector who'd bought the sculpture died in I888 he left it, along with the rest of his vast collection, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. At that time New York's fledgling museum, which had recently moved from Fourteenth Street up to Eighty-First Street and Fifth Avenue, had already outgrown its new space, and its director, General Luigi Palma di Cesnola, was using all available funds for expansions. When he saw how much conservation Hypnos needed he put the sculpture in storage in the cavernous tunnel under Central Park until he had the money to tend to it. In I908 a young curator mislabeled it and for almost an entire century after that, it remained lost. Then, in the winter of 2007, another curator, searching for a Roman bronze, discovered the mislabeled crate. A few months later, the Met announced its find. Hypnos, they said, would be getting the conservation it needed before being installed in a special exhibition space linking the Greek and Roman wings with the new Islamic wing when it opened in 2011.
Five months later, Vartan Reza formally made a request on behalf of the Iranian government that Hypnos be returned, claiming it had been illegally smuggled out of the country by a French archaeologist.
Once the international press reported the story, the Greek government filed a similar claim, requesting that the sculpture be returned to them since, even though the piece had been found in the Middle East, it was clearly of Greek origin and a national treasure.
It was no surprise that the single surviving piece of chryselephantine sculpture in the world was a prize to fight over, but the Met refused to even get into the ring.
In a New York Times op-ed, the museum director wrote about the cultural heritage issue at the heart of the battle:
There is no case here. Frederick L. Lennox, who bequeathed the sculpture to us, did not engage in buying contraband. Partage was a common and legitimate system in the nineteenth century, and this treasure was part of that fair exchange—expertise traded for a percentage of what was found. It wasn't illegal activity then and can't be looked at as illegal activity now.
Hypnos has been at the Met for over one hundred and twenty years. This is his home, and with us he is safe in a way that he might not be in his homeland. We'll continue to protect him and prepare him to be shown unless and until we have irrefutable proof that he's here illegally.
All over the world, museums engaged in similar battles were watching what happened in New York. When accused of harboring looted treasures, most of them took it upon themselves to do the research necessary to prove the legality of their ownership. Not the Met. The director insisted the burden of that proof was on the claimant. The Metropolitan, he said, was under no obligation to prove the opposite. The last will and testament of Frederick L. Lennox had been verified when it was executed over a hundred years before.
Reza had countered by getting a subpoena requiring the museum to turn over Lennox's bequest and any other pertinent paperwork. When that request was refused, Reza filed with the Manhattan district attorney, asking to be allowed to review the Met's documents and study the detailed history of the object's journey to the museum in order to prove it was there illegally.
Posted May 9, 2013
Posted July 6, 2011
"The Hypnotist" by M. J. Rose is the third book in the fictional "The Reincarnationist" series. Each book, while part of the series, is free standing.
FBI agent Lucian Glass is investigating an art collector who is destroying expensive masterpieces and becomes involved in a strange case of hostage negotiation. While working the case, Lucian goes undercover at the Phoenix Foundation and discovers he has flashbacks of past life experiences.
Lucian questions his sanity and reality while getting directed towards an intricate plan to breaking into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and steal Hypnos, the 1,500 year old sculpture of the Greek God of sleep.
"The Hypnotist" by M. J. Rose was, for me, just the right book at the right time. I moved to a new state with my family, as hard as the move was, being the head of the family did not allow a meltdown (even though I came close).
Even though this book is the third in a series, the series itself is non-sequential. While there are some recurring minor characters and themes, one does not need to read the books in order since each one is a standalone story even though it might help you enjoy the book more.
The chapters are easy to read and even though there are multiple characters I did not get confused. There are many twists in the book which kept the mystery and suspense up and, of course, all come together at the end.
I would categorize the book as supernatural, only because I don't read supernatural often. However, it is more a mix of history, mysticism and art. Ms. Rose's writing is engaging and fluid. The scenes where the author describes past civilizations, which play a key role in the book, are interesting, fascinating and expertly rendered.
The book was a wonderful read to escape from the pressures of everyday life and extra, added on pressures which I might detail at a different time.
Posted June 10, 2011
The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose
Series: Reincarnationist (#3)
Release Date: April 19th, 2011
Page Count: 412
Source: Pump Up Your Book for review, as part of The Hypnotist's blog tour
Haunted by his inability to stop the murder of a beautiful young painter twenty years ago, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work with the FBI's Art Crime Team. Investigating a crazed collector who's begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation -- dedicated to the science of past-life study. There, to maintain his cover, he submits to the treatment of a hypnotist.
Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to nineteenth-century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of the world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity, and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history: a fifteen-hundred-year-old sculpture the nation of Iran will do anything to recover.
What Stephanie Thought: Art trade and theft is one of those subjects that don't come up that often -- at first glance, you wouldn't at all suspect how corrupt and controversial of a market it is. In The Hypnotist, it's revealed that art deals are actually one of the most illicit in the black market, third to the drug and arms trade.
The book begins with the murder of a beautiful girl. She never did any wrong; she just happened to be standing in the way. This demonstrates how hungry, and how desperate some art dealers are. They would even kill to get their hands on the right artwork. In this case, it's the ancient Persian statue of Hypnos, or the god of dreams, that has no official ownership due to its complicated political history. That is, until hundreds of years later, when Iran claims that it's been theirs all along, and threatens to destroy the originals of a few well-known legendary masterpieces, if they don't get it back.
To maintain his high-profile identity, agent Lucian Glass goes undercover as a troubled artist and sees a psychotherapeutic hypnotist. The process of hypnosis reveals a startling and vicious past, and eventually tells the whole story of how Hypos's statue's fervor began, and why it's so desperately desired in the present.
M.J. Rose writes with complexity and poise; I am really impressed by her authoritative tone and thought process. However, there was a little too much for me in this book. Too much information, too much detail, and as a mystery novel, rather than keeping me at edge with every page, I soon became weary of its wordiness and seemingly endless plot.
As a critic, I am intrigued and enchanted by The Hypnotist's intricate detail, but as a reader, there isn't too much praise I can give to the overall story.
Stephanie Loves: "Objectivity is overrated. Passion is much more productive."
Radical Rating: 6 hearts- Would recommend to people.
Posted May 20, 2011
The Hypnotist is book three in The Reincarnationist's series. It is a mystery suspense thriller with mild to moderate expletives and violence.
Lucian Glass works for the FBI as part of their Art Crimes Team who has a past surrounded by murder and mystery. At nineteen, he returns from his artist studio, to find his girlfriend murdered and hanging amongst the picture frames of her father's framing business. However, before Lucian can react, he too is attacked and left for dead, now twenty years later, that past is coming back to haunt him.
Dr. Malachai Samuels is a long-standing reincarnationist who is obsessed with proving that people's souls do, in fact, reincarnate into other bodies. His speciality is working with children, like little Veronica who begins her tale in ancient Persia, he hypnotizes the children and does past regression therapy upon them. However, Veronica's tales are tying into the memory stones that he desperately seeks, and he will stop at nothing to obtain them.
Emeline Jacobs is a cousin of Solange's who has been adopted by Solange's parents, shortly after her murder. In a desperate need to feel wanted, her family was killed in an accident, Emeline begins to take on the persona of Solange. Causing her aunt and uncle to whisk her from doctor to doctor trying to uncover the secret of Emeline's uncanny mannerisms of her late cousin.
Samimi is an Iranian who is working to return a statue of the God, Hypnos, back to his country. He and his people know the secrets of the statue and will cheat, lie, steal and murder to regain control of the piece, which now sits in the restoration department of the New York Metropolitan Museum. Samimi works for a boorish, murderous oaf and wishes to displace him, fearing he will be called home to Iran or worse, murdered, he works to bring salvation to his people while keeping his own self alive and intact.
Each person moves separately towards their destinations not realizing they are all being directed to the same point in time. As each of the characters come to realize they are but a small piece in a bigger game, they must come to terms with their past, in order to preserve their futures.
I absolutely enjoyed the book and loved all the historical references to the art pieces mentioned throughout the story. My favourite painter is Monet and reading about his work was very interesting, as were the informative pieces about Matisse, Van Gogh and the mythology behind the statue of Hypnos was equally enthralling to read. I wish there had been more of it dispersed throughout the book. I loved the blending of the past with the present with the past life transgression therapy and appreciated the tales being told through both Veronica and Lucian. The tie-ins of all the participants was well-written and convincing.
The story is both slow and fast paced and it works to build momentum within the story, making you turn the pages in order to finish the tale that M.J. Rose has choose to tell. I wasn't much impressed with Emeline and wished she had been kept as an associate instead of a love interest. I don't think good stories need such and I'm often left wondering why, in times of horror, do authors have a need to throw a love story into the fray, it just doesn't make sense to me and often takes away from a story, The Hypnotist falls into such a category, unfortunately. In my honest opinion, its the books only real downfall to the plot. A small hindrance however, t
I loved the first two books of the trilogy, from M J Rose. This book was an unexpected let down. Truely enjoying most of M J Rose's books, I was excited for it, but found the characters were uninteresting & hard to relate to. Their flaws were so overwhelming I just felt sorry for the characters & myself for spending time & money on this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2010
Lucian Glass's life was defined by one moment in time. As a young art student, he arrived at a galley to find his girlfriend murdered. Attacked also, Lucian barely survives. That event changed his life. Rather than pursuing a career as an artist, he becomes an FBI agent who specializes in art fraud.
His current case is one of his most challenging. His long-time nemesis, Dr. Malachi Samuels, is a doctor who explores the fields of reincarnation and past-life regressions. Glass also believes that he is a mass murderer who kills his way to the treasures he acquires to help in his research. When the new case evolves, he believes that Samuels must be the mastermind behind the scenes.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is involved in a custody case with Iran. The Iranian government believes that the museum has wrongfully acquired a statue of Hypnos, the god of sleep. As they work through the legal intricacies, a new player bursts on the scene. The museum is sent a masterpiece; a Matisse. But, the painting has been shredded, ruined beyond restoration. The sender claims to have four more paintings of the same quality. He has a proposition. The museum can give him the statue in return for the paintings, or he will send them one at a time, destroyed. Glass works the case, sure that his opponent is Samuels, but is he right? He is also pulled back in time when he becomes involved with his girlfriend's cousin, who has remained in the art world.
Fans of M.J. Rose won't be disappointed in this novel. Fast-paced with entrancing characters and an exploration of reincarnation and the art world, The Hypnotist is a compelling read. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Posted July 2, 2010
This is the third book in M.J. Rose's Reincarnationist series. I have not read the first two, but received a review copy of this one from the publisher through NetGalley.com. A reader can easily jump into the middle of this series, though, after having read The Hypnotist, I will definitely go back and read the first two!
The plot is intricate, full of twists and complications that require the reader to be paying attention. While reincarnation is the central theme, we're taken through an ancient world of artifacts and the modern world of stolen artwork. Everyone's lives seem to be intertwined, with the past bleeding into the present.
The characters are each unique, struggling with their own demons as they find their way. Rose's writing easily dropped me into this made-up world and held me there until the last page.
Posted April 30, 2010
To some deja vu is more than just a coincidence. It is pieces from our past lives that play an important part on the here, the now and the future.
Lucian lost the love of his life a long time ago and blames himself for not being able to save her. He works for the FBI and the current case has him tracking down a thief. Under hypnosis, Lucian reveals some information that he didn't even know he had. Demands are made and one wrong move could destroy everything.
This is one of those books that take you to another level that you didn't even know existed. We've all heard about reincarnation by M.J. is so talented that her story seems like the first one to ever. Definitely 5 stars!
Posted April 25, 2010
I Also Recommend:
Like sparks growing into a flame, the bits and pieces of this suspenseful puzzle meld together to engulf the reader in a fascinating tale of past life reincarnation. Lucien Glass, an FBI special agent on the Art Crime Team, is brought into the Metropolitan Museum of Art to investigate the destruction of an almost priceless work of art that had been missing for years and then shows up in tatters. Glass and his team are faced with the task of meeting a blackmailer's demand for an exchange of four other stolen masterpieces in trade for a Greek statue of Hypnos, the god of sleep. Unbeknownst to Glass the statue is also coveted by two other unscrupulous men, each with their own agenda. This coupled with the past life experiences touching on the same statue, that Glass continues to deny to himself, adds up to a twisting surprise ending that will keep the reader guessing. A highly entertaining, smooth flowing, and very suspenseful story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 25, 2010
FBI's Art Crime Team special agent Lucian Glass continues his pursuit of the Phoenix Foundation's Malachi Samuels. Both adversaries also seek the "Memory Tools" that enable people to look into their past-lives' memories.
A Matisse painting stolen two decades ago from the gallery of Andre Jacobs is sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art ripped to shreds. The slasher warns the museum that four more stolen masterpieces will be destroyed unless MOMA gives to the thief the fifteen century old Hypnos, a sculpture that allegedly can bestow supernatural power to a person. Lucian has never forgotten the theft because his beloved Solange, Andre's daughter, was killed during the heist. As he travels though past lives in ancient Greece and ninetieth century Persia, Lucian is attracted to Andre's niece Emeline, whom the gallery owner raised as his adopted daughter as she reminds him so much of his Solange; too much so.
The latest Reincarnationist tale novel (see The Memorist), The Hypnotist is another great entry in one of the most exhilarating fresh sagas on the market today. The past lives and the present case subplots merge effortlessly into a superb thriller held together by a stunned Lucian.
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