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The Chrysalis    by Heather Terrell order for
by Heather Terrell
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

For lawyer Heather Terrell, with ten years as a litigator, writing her first novel isn't too much of a reach. Her protagonist in Chrysalis, Mara Coyne, is a lawyer bucking for partner when an important case falls into her lap. Will this be the one that puts a key to the partners' restroom in her hand?

The ownership of a valuable seventeenth century painting is in doubt not so much the legal ownership but the moral one. Mara is handed this case on behalf of an auction house, against the Dutch daughter of the owner, from whom it was confiscated by the Nazis. The daughter must prove that it was never sold but stolen from her father's home.

Interwoven between three centuries the 1600s, 1940s and today, the plot moves back and forth not only in time but in righteousness. Suspense builds as Mara comes to realize that all is not as it seems. And worst of all, she has been used. Whom can she trust? A man from her past? The firm she works for? Her dear friend? Feeling all alone, she reels from one revelation to another as the suspense escalates.

This story of deception, intrigue, greed and dishonor holds the reader's attention from the first page to the last. The characters are either as dishonest as they need to be to make the tale work or struggling with the need to do right, though it would be more advantageous to ignore the whole problem. Mara is only too human as she works through the loss of her life's goals and the need to not let the bad guys win.

This is the start of a new series that, with the same concept as Chrysalis, could take the reader all over the world, to battle the wrongs being done in the art world along with Mara. The next in the series can't arrive too soon for me.

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