The recent theft of family portraits seems to be nothing more than a prank after the artwork is returned, painted over with the faces of locals. But then a body is discovered, and Lord Francis Powerscourt risks everything to find the killer.
Dickinson's witty, highly literate seventh Lord Francis Powerscourt novel (after 2007's Death on the Nevskii Prospekt) provides a lively portrait of turn-of-the-last-century Ireland, where the English investigator and his wife, Lady Lucy, track down missing ancestral paintings of Anglo-Irish overlords, rescue kidnapped noblewomen from Irish nationalists and unmask murderers defiling the sacred Croagh Patrick pilgrimage. Large dollops of Ireland's long bloody struggle for independence counterpoint snatches of the country's famed song and poetry as Powerscourt thrashes out his inner dilemma against the labor pains of modern nationhood, torn between his aristocratic English heritage and the Ireland of his youth that he still loves deeply. Meanwhile, Ireland's religious and political leaders juggle fanaticism against practicality and Celtic voodoo against political expediency. Though Lady Lucy's role here is subordinated to Dickinson's evident relish in historical settings, architecture, art and poetry, this novel provides splendid entertainment and a wealth of insights into still-smoldering resentments and conflicts. (Apr.)
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March 31, 2009
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