BOOK: Isle of the Dead
AUTHOR: Alex Connor
PUBLISHER: Quercus, Pan Macmillan Aust
ALEX Connor is also known as Alexandra Connor and has written several historical sagas under this name.
As an artist, she has also copied Titian's paintings in this book as well as her own version of Angelico Vespucci's portrait.
The Titian portrait of Vespucci, a notorious Venetian criminal, is mysteriously washed up in the Thames.
Not seen in public for 400 years, its chance discovery by Serafina Morgan results in brutal murder as well as the identification of a killer who had been active centuries earlier.
The author takes us on a riveting journey from 15th century Venice to present-day London, the shady art-dealing district in Tokyo, and New York, with Nino Bergstrom on the trail of not only the priceless painting but also Serafina's murder.
People might mock or be in fear of Vespucci's legend, and like the Koh-I-Noor diamond, the portrait is beset with doom, but the intrepid Nino is determined to get to the bottom of this grisly mystery.
Does the killer himself have the priceless Titian?
It needs concentration to read the chapters as they jump in and out of time-frames and locations, but Connor brings all of her characters vividly to life in beautiful prose and you will be gripped by the surprise ending.
Here's a thriller among the best of its kind.