3 out of 4 stars
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The Girl Who Knew da Vinci by Belle Ami is a thriller with a heavy dose of romance. The search is on for a missing Leonardo da Vinci painting. The catch? – it’s a work of art that supposedly doesn’t exist and is not attributable to da Vinci. Art historian Angela Renatus begins having dreams and visions about the famous artist and the subjects in the painting, Giuliano Medici and his lover Fioretta.
Art detective Alex Caine is looking for the same painting on behalf of a rich client, Max Jaeger. Jaeger wants to clear his Uncle Gerhard’s name. Gerhard had been a German officer who went missing during World War II; before his disappearance, he had written letters to his mother describing the da Vinci painting.
I enjoyed this absorbing story that contains a nice blend of mystery, history, and romance. Although the story unfolds in different time periods, the jam-packed plot and characters are relatively easy to keep track of. The transitions are smooth between Giuliano, Fioretta, and their friend da Vinci in the late 1400’s and Angela and Alex’s search for the painting in the present day. There are also flashbacks featuring Gerhard and his lover Sophia during World War II.
The unusually close connection Angela feels with both Fioretta and Sophia veers the story into paranormal territory. The plot thickens when Alex feels an intense connection with Giuliano and Gerhard. Were Angela and Alex lovers in past lives? The subject of past life regression adds an interesting layer to the story. While I don’t normally like paranormal touches in a book, the theme fits well within the plot.
When the present-day investigation switches to Italy, the book really sparkles. The author has a real talent for imagery as I was able to soak in the beautiful scenery. The descriptions give special meaning to the phrase “lost in a good book.” That being said, the plot moves forward slowly. By the middle of the story, I become impatient for the pace to speed up and the mystery to be solved.
Romance flourishes on several different fronts, including Angela and Alex’s growing attraction to each other. Still, the painting mystery takes center stage although the romance element adds spice to the story. Although the book is categorized as a thriller, I can’t say there was a high level of suspense until later in the story.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. There are approximately twelve errors, including homophone errors (new/knew, core/corps, and your/you’re) and missing or incorrect punctuation. Although the story is very interesting, the errors prevent me from awarding the highest score. Readers who enjoy a juicy plot and a blend of genres should add this book to their reading list. Art lovers will certainly appreciate the subject matter. You will lose track of time and find yourself reading well into the night.
Reviewer's Note (5/30/18): The errors have been corrected by the author in an update of the soon-to-be published book.
The Girl Who Knew da Vinci
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