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Madonna of the Apes: An Art Mystery    by Nicholas Kilmer order for
Madonna of the Apes
by Nicholas Kilmer
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Is it possible that there is a lost Leonardo in Boston? On the lid of an old wooden chest? This is the premise of Nicholas Kilmer's Madonna of the Apes. Art connoisseur and tough guy Fred Taylor and art collector Clayton Reed happen on what they are sure is an undocumented painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. They manage to wrest it from an unscrupulous vendor.

So far, so good. Except that the vendor now wants the chest back and is willing to pay double what he sold it for. Mayhem reigns as Fred finds one body after another. He also enjoys the charms of two unusual ladies, one of whom is after the chest. As Fred points out, all art dealers lie, so he is not quite sure who is behind all the trouble he is in. For the short period of time the book encompasses, it seems like it always rains in Boston. The mystery is subtle and engaging, but the art history lesson is college lecture material. I learned a great deal about Leonardo da Vinci. Didn't know he only produced six paintings, so the possibility of a chest lid painted by him is not unbelievable.

I have to admit, I felt out of my league with this extremely erudite work. I became so engrossed with the background material I would forget the plot. This engaging book is the sixth in Kilmer's art mystery series.

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