This is a well crafted thriller with a supernatural theme.
The narrative describes the hunt for a hidden painting by Leonardo da Vinci. It spans countries and time zones and follows the fortunes of the main protagonists, art historian Angela Renatus and art detective Alex Caine.
Angela has several hallucinations, the first of which sends her spinning across time to when Da Vinci first created the painting. Alex also experiences hallucinations, but these are clearly linked to Angela’s and are not so intense. Angela’s part of the story opens at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, where she was working for the director, Albert Scordato who has been abusing her and becomes the central villain of the narrative. Scordato has been secretly videoing her, witnesses the hallucinations and realises she may be a link to finding the missing painting which being by Da Vinci is worth a fortune.
The hallucinations are also witnessed by Alex, who falls in love with Angela and persuades her to leave the Getty and come with him to Italy to unravel the mystery behind her hallucinations. Scordato follows, recruiting henchmen along the way, with the intention of ceasing the painting and doing the protagonists harm.
The author gets the feel of the different time zones in story right. The dialogue used by the characters in the past times may not be strictly accurate, but this does not matter as it describes how they must have reacted and felt at the time the actions take place. Belle Ami has obviously done a great deal of research about Da Vinci and the Renaissance. She seems to know the period well. The love she has for the art of this time clearly comes across in the book and made me want to revisit what I already knew about Da Vinci and the time in which he lived. I am not so sure that the description of events in Florence during World War II ring as true. But I will need to research that period myself to be sure of its accuracy.
The hallucinations and the time shifts they cause are expertly described. The love scenes between Angela and Alex are also very well written. The love they have for each other and food make the story extremely sensuous. The character of Angela is well portrayed and believable. She comes across as impoverished and downtrodden. Alex, on the other hand, seems too good to be true. He is a rich ex-military hero with a liking for fast cars and is an expert in the use of small arms. Sordato appears to be almost a cliché of a James Bond villain. There is nothing wrong with that as I love the James Bond books and films, but I would have liked a bit more originality here.
But despite these minor critisems I enjoyed the story and the originality behind the plot kept me reading right until the end.
Available as a paperback, ebook and audiobook