4 out of 4 stars
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Reminiscent of both Da Vinci Code and National Treasure, Mona Lisa’s Secret by Phil Phillips is an amazing story from start to finish. Joey and his girlfriend Marie stumble across a hidden room in Joey’s estate containing what appears to be a copy of the Mona Lisa. It turns out that Joey’s great-grandfather was Vincenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the original Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. The official story given to the world was that Peruggia stole the painting, then later returned it to the Louvre. However, upon closer examination of the painting they found, Joey and Marie are shocked to realize the painting they found is actually the original! After some discussion, they decide the right thing to do is to return the priceless piece of art to the Louvre.
Coincidentally, Marie has connections to Pierre, curator at the Louvre. Maria makes contact with Pierre, and the adventure begins. Why did Joey’s great-grandfather steal the Mona Lisa? Why did he return a fake to the Louvre? Why does Pierre go back on his word to announce that the real Mona Lisa has been found? Why are Joey and Marie’s lives suddenly in danger? The answers apparently lie hidden in the original Mona Lisa painting, if only it can be decoded.
Betrayal, kidnapping, high-tech intrigue, and heroism are all involved in the search to discover whatever secret Leonardo da Vinci hid within the Mona Lisa. When Marie ends up in a cell hidden in the Louvre with no way out, Joey’s search becomes that much more urgent. The high-stakes hunt takes Joey to the point of unraveling secrets that date back to the time of Christ. The more Joey finds out, the more convinced he becomes that some secrets should remain secrets.
Action-packed and filled with danger, Mona Lisa’s Secret is thrilling. The characters are well-drawn and overall likable (except for the antagonist and his sidekicks, of course). In particular, Joey is of interest as a character. Although he was the family misfit in his childhood, he has recently found himself the heir to the family estate. Having spent much effort to distance himself from the family legacy, Joey sees the quest to return the Mona Lisa as a way to clear the reputation of his family and start over, so to speak. Joey wishes to become his own person, distinct from his heritage, but doesn’t entirely discover what that entails until he is at the end of himself.
As a story, Mona Lisa’s Secret is rich and entertaining. However, I was disappointed that foul language is liberally used and that the beginning includes an adults-only scene. These factors would hinder me from recommending this to a young audience. Additionally, devout Catholics as well as other groups that follow the Holy Scriptures may be offended at some of the outcomes unless they view this solely as fiction. With those caveats in mind, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Mona Lisa's Secret
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