Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cannonball Read #47: The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte

I figured out what irritates me about Arturo Perez-Reverte. First, he needs to shake up his descriptions, particularly of women. When I read The Club Dumas there were times when I actually said out loud, like a crazy person, things like "holy CRAP yes, green eyes, tan skin, long legs, complete Lolita fantasy, I get it, GOD." There's certainly value in providing physical and emotional profiles of your characters, but rewording it occasionally is helpful. Ditto with the comparisons of people to animals...we get it. Wolflike. 10-4.

That's all mildly irritating, but the big problem I have with his writing is that he makes it seem like he's going to pull of these really fascinating connections between ancient artifacts and modern day events, and then in the end he makes it riiiiiiiiight up to what should be the big reveal, and then it turns out that it was just modern day people dicking around and being evil jerks. It's still interesting that way, but Perez-Reverte is a good enough writer that you get really excited about what you think he's going to pull off, only to be let down in the end. I want more out of his books because I think he can DO more in his books.

In the case of The Flanders Panel, the story surrounds a Flemish painting being restored by the Pure-Hearted Protagonist of the novel. In the process of the restoration, she discovers a hidden message in the painting, and embarks on a search for answers. The painting features a game of chess, and one of the most interesting aspects of the book is the eventual necessity of playing out the game portrayed. I don't know much about chess - not good chess, anyway - so seeing how it can all be played and reasoned out was fascinating. I must say that I was not wild about the way Perez-Reverte inserted pictures into the book, but I'm also not sure how else it could have been made accessible (an appendix?).

I'm going to put this one in the beach book category. It's not a bad book even though it suffers from the above mentioned crisis of direction, and it's a good lightish read while still requiring some brainpower to keep track of everything. Worth your time but not getting arrested for speeding on the way to the bookstore.

294 pages

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