Painting In The Shadows: An Alex Clayton Art Mystery
About the Book:
Art dealer Alex Clayton and conservator John Porter are thrilled to be previewing the Melbourne International Museum of Art’s (MIMA) newest exhibition, until they witness a museum worker collapse and badly damage a reportedly cursed painting.
Belief in the curse is strengthened when MIMA’s senior conservator Meredith Buchanan dies less than twenty-four hours later while repairing the work. But Alex and John are convinced there is a decidedly human element at work in the museum.
The evidence sets them on the trail of a mysterious painting that could hold a key to Meredith’s death, and the stakes are raised higher when Alex is offered her dream job at MIMA. Damaging the museum’s reputation will jeopardise her professional future. The friends soon realise they are facing an adversary far more ruthless than they had anticipated, and there is much more at risk than Alex’s career.
Painting In the Shadows is the follow up to last year’s release, The Portrait of Molly Dean. I still haven’t read The Portrait of Molly Dean, more because I just have so many books clamouring for attention, rather than a lack of interest. After enjoying Painting In the Shadows, I many just be digging the first book out of my TBR mountain sooner rather than later. And before I go any further with this review, what about that cover?! It’s so striking and matches the story to perfection! I love it.
I really enjoyed this novel. I’m a bit of an art enthusiast, particularly art history (despite not knowing a whole lot about it), so any novels that have a plot revolving around art tend to grab my attention. For some odd reason, this novel put me in mind of a Nancy Drew adventure, but with a grown-up more sassy version of Nancy realised through Alex Clayton. I can’t really explain why, but this was the image that formed and got stuck in my head for the duration – it’s a good thing though, I loved Nancy Drew as a teen. Much of this story is told through dialogue, a snappy back and forth between two friends that know each other inside out – it was a whole lot of fun to read. Some very amusing conversations evolved at times, a witty banter that had me snickering and even laughing out loud on several occasions.
Painting In The Shadows is strong in both character development and story. It’s a mystery, more amateur sleuth than traditional crime, but it works really well, particularly because the two sleuths, Alex and John, are not kidding themselves about their lack of finesse when it comes to investigating a crime – enter the amusing conversations and scenarios! The art world really comes to life in this novel, because for all of their lack of investigative skills, Alex and John really are experts in their chosen fields. I enjoyed stepping into that world for the duration, seeing the mechanics of a museum getting ready for an exhibition, listening in on the arty conversations and gaining some insight into the many career paths that are open to lovers of art who may or may not actually be artists themselves. And despite all of the amateur sleuthing, Alex and John still manage to uncover more info than the police.
All in all, Painting In The Shadows is an entertaining, smart and sassy read that will appeal to a wide audience. Highly recommended.
About the Author:
Katherine Kovacic is a former veterinarian turned art historian who works with a wide variety of museums, galleries and historic houses. She lives in Melbourne with a Borzoi and a Scottish Deerhound. The Portrait of Molly Dean was her debut novel and the first Alex Clayton art mystery.
Painting In The Shadows
Published by Bonnier Echo
Released 4th March 2019