"Deftly exploring connections between art, religion, and politics, Forbes layers her mystery with lush imagery and palpable human drama.... For fans of Perez-Reverte or Iain Pears."
"Excellent.... The characters are richly drawn.... The novel will captivate and delight."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Transcends the limitations of the genre with ease, not merely because of the author's prodigious erudition, polished prose style and sophistication as a storyteller, but because she has created a character one cares about....A learned whodunit in the tradition of The Name of the Rose."
--The Wall Street Journal on Fish, Blood & Bone
--The Washington Post on Fish, Blood & Bone
"Gives new meaning to the term "intelligent page-turner.""
--Kirkus Reviews on Fish, Blood & Bone
"Lavish and sexy...conveys a sense of India so rich that it ceases to seem a mere country."
--The New York Times Book Review on Bombay Ice
"A riveting murder mystery...complex and vastly entertaining...the toughest, most sympathetic heroine since SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW."
--Harper's Bazaar on Bombay Ice
From the Hardcover edition.
Forbes, who set her first two literary thrillers in lush, fascinating India, turns to Europe in her excellent third, to the idyllic Italian town of Urbino, birthplace of the painter Raphael. Recently divorced, Charlotte Penton is the latest in a long line of repressed Englishwomen who travel to Italy-in Charlotte's case, to supervise the restoration of a Raphael portrait, La Muta-and find their lives transformed. Decidedly unrepressed is beautiful, not terribly smart Donna Ricco, a member of a film company hired to document the restoration. Outside Urbino lies the abandoned hamlet of San Rocco, whose only inhabitant, the crazy Muta, lives secretly in a ruined cellar. Charlotte brushes up against the mystery of the WWII disappearance of San Rocco's residents and finds herself, along with Donna, drawn into the dark questions surrounding it. The old men of Urbino spend their days plotting in cafes, watching Charlotte and Donna stumble toward truths the men don't want known. The horror of the past is eventually exposed by a chain of events beginning with the slashing of the freshly restored Raphael painting. The secret is of killing and worse: "All those foul acts of which men are capable when God turns his face away from mankind." The characters are richly drawn, from the suave count to the pig farmer. Entranced readers will find the secrets of San Rocco uncovered, layer by layer, not unlike Charlotte's painstaking restoration of Raphael's painting. There's more than a touch of magic realism involved, interwoven with fascinating facts about history, religion, painting, miracles and more. This novel will captivate and delight. Agent, Barbara Levy. (June 29) Forecast: Booksellers can make comparisons to Umberto Eco, Iain Pears and Peter Hoeg-as Bantam did on the galley-and trust that Forbes's sales will be high. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The Da Vinci Code meets Captain Corelli's Mandolin in this top-notch literary thriller. The recently divorced Charlotte Penton escapes London for the town of Urbino in the Italian countryside to lead a restoration project on an enigmatic painting by Raphael known as La Muta, or "the Mute Woman." When the canvas is viciously gouged by a mute cleaning woman, blood begins dripping from the wounds, drawing pilgrims far and wide in search of a miracle. Vatican investigators, debunkers, and media crews also descend upon Urbino to witness the spectacle. Charlotte suspects that the cleaning woman is hiding out near the bell tower of San Rocco, a crumbling fortress on the edge of town. But the more Charlotte delves into the history of the tiny, scarred village, the more she learns about the horrifying atrocities that occurred there during World War II and the widespread cover-up that followed. With touches of magic realism, Forbes (Bombay Ice; Fish, Blood and Bone) adds mystery to a novel that combines art, Catholicism, government corruption, political history, and a dash of romance. Vivid scenery and richly detailed characters add depth. Highly recommended.-Christine Perkins, Burlington P.L., WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The restoration of a famed Raphael canvas reveals matters far more scandalous than hidden brushstrokes in Forbes's magical Italian idyll. British art expert Charlotte Penton has come to Urbino to supervise the restoration of La Muta, one of the few portraits to remain in Raphael's hometown. Because Charlotte's reserve comes across as snobbery on television, her commentary's being put into the mouth of Donna Ricco, a well-endowed, good-hearted, empty-headed Canadian girl who's slept with exactly the right people to get the job. But the rivalry between the two women is only the tip of the paintbrush, as a local wild woman called La Muta reveals during a reception when she attacks the painting with a knife. Although La Muta, who hasn't spoken for 50 years, misses Count Dado Malaspino, the worldly hotelier widely believed to be her target, her assault on the painting draws miraculously real blood-and a pair of dueling experts intent on debating the miracle. Professor Andrea Serafini, of the Italian Commission for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, is a professional debunker; Monsignor Seguita, a forensic pathologist from the Vatican, a professional authenticator. Their ceaseless debate, however, misses the real mystery Charlotte and Donna focus on. Whatever her target was, what was La Muta's connection to the Nerruzzi pig-farming consortium, the shadowy force behind a recent epidemic of violence in the bucolic town, and why was she so intent on inflicting damage for wrongs that may go all the way back to the closing days of WWII and the destruction of the village of San Rocco? Their investigations prove once more that "nothing is ever simply itself in Italy."As in Fish, Blood andBone (2001), Forbes uses the conventions of the romance and the thriller, transforming and discarding them at will, to illuminate the mysterious connections between past and present and bring a pair of ardent and uncommonly appealing heroines to life.