Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Empress of Tempera

The Empress of Tempera by Alex Dolan begins with protagonist Paire Anjou watching a man stab himself to death after sobbing in front of a painting in the window of the Fern Gallery where she works.  The  Empress Xiao Zhe Yi, Seated was painted on wood with tempera paint by an artist named Qi and was on loan from an unknown source.  Paire, while being in shock from watching a man kill himself, was surprised to see the painting in the gallery as the gallery was hosting an exhibition of works by her boyfriend Derek Rosewood.  Hundreds of people from all over the world come to the gallery and obsess over the Empress's stare and clothing, including Paire.  The painting is stolen, stolen again and stolen a third time as Paire researches the painting and the artist's histories.  She sets in motion a plethora of crimes by others as they bribe, steal and kill in order to possess the painting.

The story shows the dark underside of the art world. It is also about art history and the family secrets of those who are trying to possess the painting.  Paire's own family background is a part of the story which was interesting to read about.  Nobody seems to be whom they say they are which gave the novel a lot of suspense.  The plot was complex with many twists and turns.

I loved this second novel by Mr. Dolan.  He is a new author for me and I will be following him in the future.

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