Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oh, Pears!

One of several pleasing byproducts of a recent trip to NYC and Philadelphia was the discovery/digestion of Iain Pears' rather cerebral but entirely entertaining art history mystery series - six titles altogether of which The Raphael Affair is the first. Managed to pick up five of them in Barnes & Noble on 5th Ave and probably 43rd St for $6.50 each, and the last in Philadelphia, more expensive (not really a problem) but larger and bound differently and therefore, irritatingly, spoiling the arrangement on the bookshelf.

Like most good detective story sequences these must be read strictly in order. Together they chart the history of the affable, muddleheaded but inevitably utterly charming English art historian Jonathan Argyll as he more or less accidentally embraces life in Rome, a gradual love affair with an (equally inevitably) beautiful but feisty Roman detective, and a series of art-related crimes in which the crime itself is reflected, and its solution contained by, the art work at the centre of the story.

Tore through these at a tremendous pace, finishing the last one up on the plane home. Perhaps time to re-tackle Pears rather more serious effort An Instance of the Fingerpost (1998), which many readers have liked much less. But look, how organised, one book a year for six years...

The Jonathan Argyll Art History Mysteries
The Raphael Affair (1991)
The Titian Committee (1992)
The Bernini Bust (1993)
The Last Judgment (1994)
Giotto's Hand (1995)
Death and Restoration (1996)


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