Thursday, 3 September 2009

Review:- Adrian MATHEWS – “The Apothecary’s House”

Publ: 2006
Pensby Library
ISBN: 978 0 330 44160 5
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 706p
Found by Serendipity
Rating: ***** **

What led you to pick up this book?
The cover which mentioned – ‘A looted painting... a secret code, a deadly pursuit...’

Describe the plot without giving anything away.

Set in modern Amsterdam the heroine, an art historian, gets involved with the rival claimants for a painting recovered from the Nazis after the Second World War. Her life and career are both threatened the more involved she gets. And who can she trust – her colleagues, the little old lady whose ancestor painted the picture, the family of her dead boyfriend or any of the new cast of characters she comes across as the plot progresses. The importance of the painting is gradually unraveled but only at the end do we learn who she might have trusted all along ,
Some aspects of the plot are a bit weak – most notably the reasoning behind the symbolic code.

What did you think of the characters?
Occasionally some of them became less than believable. If anything let the book down – for me – it was the characterization, despite his deep exploration of some of their actions. It is perhaps the price one pays for keeping one’s options open as to who the villain or villains might be.

What did you think about the style?
Very readable and although I fairly quickly concluded the plot was likely to be a bit weak in parts I enjoyed it. The humour – generally black – is at times brilliant.

What did you like most about the book?
Plenty of action, humour and great descriptions of Amsterdam.

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.

Would I recommend it?
Probably not. Equivalent to 2 good sized books I can think of plenty to read instead.

It was some time since she’d consulted the real estate ads, but an approximate calculation was not beyond her. She was fairly confident, at any rate, about the number of zeros. She could almost afford it herself: she had the zeros – it was the other number that went in front she hadn’t got.

Up to now the elderly had hardly loomed large in Ruth’s preoccupations. Old person, distantly related to homo sapiens. Defining characteristic: takes in excess of twenty minutes to buy a stamp in the post office.

The usual, Too much month left at the end of the money...

She... stood up and went over to the bookcase. She was intrigued by people’s museums of little objects, the things they’d been drawn to in life’s journey and that it pleased them to have around.
(NOTE – I’m in the middle of reading ‘Snoop’ a book all about this very subject!)

“Have you been having a difficult time, my dear?” Lydia asked.
“Story of my life. I was a breech birth – that’s when my troubles started.”
“Right from the beginning then?”
“Not exactly. I had nine clear months of relative peace before that.”

– born 1957, was born and brought up in London studying English at Cambridge before becoming a lecturer at London University’s British |institute in Oparis. He lives in France and is the author of non-fiction works on English literature as well as two previous novels one of which won the prestigious Silver Dagger Award in 1999.

1 comment:

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