Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, August 3, 2015

dangerous secret glimpsed in a photo - The Tempest (Bowers and Hunter Mystery # 2) by James Lilliefors

Tourists like Susan Champlain pass through the Chesapeake Bay region every year. But when Susan pays Pastor Luke Bowers a visit, he's disturbed by what she shares with him. Her husband has a short temper, she says, and recently threatened to make her "disappear" because of a photo Susan took on her phone.


Published: July 28th, 2015

James Lilliefors's unlikely detective duo, Pastor Luke Bowers and homicide investigator Amy Hunter, return in a new murder mystery set in Maryland's picturesque Tidewater County

Tourists like Susan Champlain pass through the Chesapeake Bay region every year. But when Susan pays Pastor Luke Bowers a visit, he's disturbed by what she shares with him. Her husband has a short temper, she says, and recently threatened to make her "disappear" because of a photo Susan took on her phone.

Luke is concerned enough to tip off Tidewater County's chief homicide investigator, Amy Hunter. That night, Susan's body is found at the foot of the Widow's Point bluff. Hunter soon discovers Susan left behind clues that may connect her fate to a series of killings in the Northeast, a powerful criminal enterprise, and to a missing Rembrandt masterpiece, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Whoever is behind the killings has created a storm of deception and betrayal, a deliberate "tempest" designed to obscure the truth. Now Hunter and Bowers must join forces to trace the dangerous secret glimpsed in Susan's photo. But will they be the next targets on a killer's deadly agenda . . . ?

Great Art, Myths and Mysteries 

Mona Lisa
On the morning of August 21, 1911, a Paris housepainter named Vincenzo Peruggia removed Mona Lisa from the wall of a Louvre salon, concealed it in his smock and walked away into the streets of Paris. For more than two years, Peruggia kept what is now the world’s most famous painting hidden away in his one-room apartment, two miles from the museum. 

If it hadn’t been returned two years later, would Da Vinci’s little masterpiece be the celebrated painting it is today? Probably not. The fame and mythology of Mona Lisa owe much to the publicity she garnered after disappearing. As the hunt for the painting became international news, the lady with the distinctive smile was the subject of popular songs and magazine stories, and used to sell everything from cigarettes to underwear. 

The Concert
One may feel a little envy imagining Peruggia secretly sharing his tiny apartment with Mona Lisa for those years. But, like most art thieves, Peruggia was operating under a misconception: he thought the painting would buy him a better life. It didn’t. After he was finally arrested, trying to sell the canvas in Florence, Italy, Peruggia spent seven months in prison. Art thieves think the “value” of great paintings can somehow be cashed in; they’re nearly always wrong. 

The most high-profile art theft in American history occurred about 70 years after the Mona Lisa heist when thieves posing as Boston police officers talked their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum after midnight, handcuffed two guards and for 81 minutes looted the galleries. The 13 works stolen included The Concert, one of only 34 paintings by Johannes Vermeer, and paintings and drawings by Rembrandt, Manet and Degas. The stolen art has been “valued” at $500 million. But, again, who would pay that? 

Allegory of Alfonso d’Avalos
The Gardner heist, sadly, remains unsolved 25 years later. No one knows for certain why the art was stolen or where it is today. Or, perhaps, someone does. The FBI believes this strongly enough that they recently put up billboards in the Philadelphia area asking for information and citing a $5 million reward for the return of the art. 

The Mystic Marriage
of St. Catherine
Among the works stolen from the Gardner was , one of Rembrandt’s most powerful paintings and his only seascape, an underappreciated masterpiece based on a Biblical parable. My new novel The Tempest weaves what might’ve happened to the painting – and what should’ve happened – with a murder story set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The protagonists in the novel are homicide investigator Amy Hunter and Methodist pastor Luke Bowers (who were also featured in last year’s The Psalmist). The antagonist this time is an ingenious art connoisseur who finds magic in Rembrandt’s lost seascape. He previously played a role in the recovery of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. 

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
The missing Gardner art hasn’t attracted quite the same notoriety as Mona Lisa a century ago. But it has inspired a great deal of speculation and many theories about the fate of the missing art. People go to the Gardner to gawk at the empty frames that still hang there, much as Parisians visited the Louvre after August 21, 1911 to see the blank space between Titian’s Allegory of Alfonso d’Avalos and Correggio’s The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine that had been the home of Mona Lisa.

The theft of priceless masterpieces is among the strangest, most mysterious of crimes. Thieves believe they are gaining something of great “value,” and they are. But the value isn’t for them. Those few high-end paintings that do sell on the black market draw far less than they’re reportedly “worth.” And most can’t be sold. The real value of works such as The Storm on the Sea of Galilee is to the public that appreciates them. The public is also the big loser when they’re taken. “Priceless” to the public, “worthless” to the thief: it’s a peculiar relationship that makes one wonder why anyone would ever want to steal a masterpiece.

About the author:
James Lilliefors is the author of the geopolitical thriller novels The Levianthan Effect and Viral. A journalist and novelist who grew up near Washington DC, Lilliefors is also the author of three nonfiction books. 
James Lilliefors is author of the Amy Hunter/Luke Bowers mystery series (HarperCollins/Witness). The first book in the series was The Psalmist (2014). The second, The Tempest, was published in July 2015. Lilliefors has also contributed to several art books and written about art for Art and Antiques, ARTnews, The Miami Herald and other publications.

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1 comment:

Tasty Book Tours said...

Thank you for hosting THE TEMPEST and James!