Thursday, 4 December 2008

Review - James Twining – “The Gilded Seal”

Publ: 2007 Harper Collins
Pensby Library
ISBN: 978 0 00 723040 2
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 438
Author Recommended by Bryony
Rating: ***** ***

This is the third book in the Tom Kirk series. A non-stop thriller which wanders around the world chasing art thieves and forgers. The hero, Tom Kirk, first appeared in ‘The Double Eagle’ which Bryony recommended. In The ‘Gilded Seal’ Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the works targeted by thieves but the painting proves to be even more enigmatic than one expects with a mystery dating back to the time of Napoleon confusing the issue.

On the whole I enjoyed the style of writing but I wasn’t enamoured of the way the characters were introduced. In some cases they took action before it was explained who they were or what role they had. It made one think for a minute that one had missed something.

The historical and art research made the work educational as well as fun and I was fascinated to read about the catacombs under Paris and the cataphiles who live there. I also learned that the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 was effectively the first truly global news story.

I shall certainly be looking for more James Twining novels.

“Mona Lisa, La Joconde – it’s just a name. It doesn’t change what it is.”
“ You don’t actually like it, do you?” Her tone conveyed a mixture of
curiosity and disbelief.
“It’s not a question of not liking it. It’s just that sometimes I wonder if she isn’t the Paris Hilton of the art world. You know, famous for being famous. The problem is that the painting comes with so much baggage that it’s impossible to appreciate it objectively any more. In fact, I’m not even sure you can like it or dislike it. It just is.”

JAMES TWINING, born in London in 1972, spent much of his childhood in Paris. A French Lit graduate from Oxford, he was briefly an investment banker and entrepreneur before turning his hand to writing. In 2001 he was named one of the eight ‘Best of Young British Entrepreneurs’. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters. His first best-seller – “The Double Eagle” has been translated into 15 languages.

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