A friend in his cigar club asks Antoine to visit René Rouquet, a retired postal worker who has found a rolled-up canvas in his apartment. As the apartment once belonged to Cézanne, Rouquet is convinced he’s discovered a treasure. But when Antoine arrives at the apartment, he finds René dead, the canvas missing, and a mysterious art history professor standing over the body.
When the painting is finally recovered, the mystery only deepens. The brushwork and color all point to Cézanne. But who is the smiling woman in the painting? She is definitely not the dour Madame Cézanne. Who killed René? Who stole the painting? And what will they do to get it back?
Kathryn - 4 Star
I have really developed a love for Longworth’s mysteries. This is only my second but there’s something about them that I find myself immersed by, perhaps it’s the area of France where she sets her novels?
I spent a year in Aix as a child and the streets, sights and regions of the city reminded me of that wonderful part of my childhood. Longworth also takes simple people with normal lives and gives them intrigue while keeping the threads of a mystery with suspense through the story line. At the end of this particular novel we are treated to a development in Verlaque’s life that makes him more realistic and made me want to call him up, like an uncle I hadn’t spoken to in ages, and have a long chat.
The novel had two threads, the current mystery of the missing Cezanne portrait and the flashes back to Cezanne himself in his own period and his relationship with the woman who may be the sitter in the current day’s missing portrait. The story switches between past and present and I was enthralled by the whole thing, the mystery and the history both.
My only issue with Longworth’s writing is the way she switches between a character’s first and last name. It adds a host of additional names you have to sort out in your head which is unhelpful as there are enough characters to keep track of as it is.
The novel is quietly fascinating and I would recommend ML Longworth’s mysteries to anyone.
Thank you to Viking/Penguin Books for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
Connect with M.L. Longworth: