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Book Review

Book: The Lost Van Gogh
Author: A.J. Zerries
Published: May, 2006
Publisher: Forge Books

available at

Synopsis: When a lost Van Gogh painting that is worth millions is mailed anonymously to The Met, NYPD Detective Clay Ryder is called in. Known as the “Art Guy” on the force, he surmises that the painting was stolen from a Jewish family during WWII by the evil Udo Luscher, a debauched Nazi official who was never seen again after the war. When the heir of the rightful owner, Rachel Preminger, takes possession of the painting, not only is she hounded by art dealers hoping to buy the painting but a series of mysterious incidents take place that can’t be ignored. Clay’s relentless determination to solve the mystery of the painting, even though the case is officially “closed,” and a series of other seemingly unrelated crimes leads to some serious questions that only Rachel can answer and a climax that reveals just how valuable a painting can be in the eyes of the wrong person.

Editor’s Review: This action-packed thriller is three-quarters old-fashioned cop story and as in any good cop story, the detective has some of his own ghosts to deal with as he delves into the case. The victim of an abusive grandfather and a widower with some grieving to complete, Zerries creates a very convincing character whose involvement in the case helps him begin to work through his own personal issues. Okay, so his background as an art auction house employee and a Navy SEAL do seem a bit too perfect a match for the ordeals he undergoes following Luscher’s trail, but Clay just doesn’t give up and he makes us love him for putting everything he’s got into it! The plot gets a little too complex with a large cast of characters but if you hang in there, it will all become clear in the end and you’ll get the satisfaction of a nice, slow and realistic decrescendo back to everyday life. If you’re paying close attention, you might be able to separate the good guys from the bad early on but I myself didn’t guess the book’s “surprise” bad buy before it was revealed -- so much the better to keep me on my toes. There was enough violence toward the end to make me cautious about reading on but these scenes, though descriptive, didn’t disturb me enough to cause serious distress. I think The Lost Van Gogh suffers a little from its broad scope; too many points of view slightly weaken the impact of the plot upon its major characters. And although we learn a lot about the underhanded activities of art dealers, there is little to learn about art itself. Nevertheless, The Lost Van Gogh doesn’t fail to please as a suspenseful and fast-moving tale with a very believable hero.

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Diana Blake is a professional artist and art history enthusiast. Her fascination with art history began when she encountered European art firsthand during several trips abroad as a young adult. As she began to compose a portfolio for her own art career, she called upon what she had seen in Europe and extended her knowledge to other styles of art through profuse reading and exhaustive research. As a result, Diana has written more than one hundred articles in which she delves into a variety of art history topics and she has compiled a list of links that she believes to be invaluable for art history enthusiasts. In addition, she also reviews books and movies on the topic of art history and has assembled an extensive list of online stores that sell books, movies and gift items related to art history.
   You can see Diana's own artwork by visiting her site at