This is a fictional murder mystery. A woman who is restores paintings is commissioned to work on a masterpiece by a Flemish master. She finds a hidden mystery in the painting that sends her on a journey to solve a murder committed 500 years ago. I thought it was great. A couple of the characters I thought were stereotypes, but overall a great read.
Amazingly I found the depiction of the chess problems (I'm nothing more than a novice player who hardly ever beats the game in the Windows version on my PC) more interesting than the plot. I thought the heroine was not that interesting (although her occupation is.) Unlike The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which brought Barcelona to life, Madrid was just a vague background to the story here. I also thought a representation of the painting would have been a nice touch (the copy I had showed chess pieces on the cover.) Never did manage to finish it, either, so maybe it got better after the first half?
A charming mystery albeit a little heavy on the chess theme; I don't play the game and it was a little much, but still intriguing, with an ending I didn't forsee. I took it on a trip and it was a good way to occupy the time.
I had not read this author's work before, but I'm very impressed with his writing. Even though chess played a major role in the plot he made it understandable for someone with only a rudimentary understanding of the game. I thoroughly enjoyed this read!
"The Flanders Panel" by Arturo Perez-Reverte is a fascinating, well-executed mystery. Set in Madrid (the book was originally published in Spanish), the action surrounds a beautiful Flemish painting of a chess match which, when x-rayed, reveals a mysterious message. Convinced that the painting holds the key to a 15th-century murder, an art restorer enlists friends and colleagues to unravel the clues found in the chess game. As she gets closer to solving the mystery of the painting, she becomes embroiled in the death of a former lover. Was it a modern-day murder or just a tragic accident? People who have been to Madrid will enjoy the references to the Prado, and chess players will revel in the game details. Alas, I am not a chess player, so my eyes glazed over a bit in some parts, however I loved the well-drawn characters, and felt that I actually knew them.
This is one of my favorite mysteries. I'm only posting it because I already have a copy on my keeper shelf - found an extra at a library sale and wanted to share the wealth. Even though there is no time travel in this story, it bridges the centuries between the time the "panel" was painted and the current day when it is being restored. Great story!