19 January 2012

Chasing Mona Lisa, Book review

Book description:

It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

With nonstop action,
Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get readers' adrenaline pumping as they join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh country chateau, the race is on--and the runners are playing for keeps.

My review:

The Mona Lisa's smile is a powerful attraction and I am certain Leonardo de Vinci himself smiles from above at the extent of our curiosity. I must admit I was very intrigued when I read the resume and it seemed to be just the novel for a long winter night. 

Tricia Goyer was a factor in my choice since I have very much enjoyed her talented writing in 'Dawn of a Thousand Nights' and 'of From Dust and Ashes'.  Readers find a talented storyteller in this author whose extensive well known fiction and non fiction work involves much research and a good amount of faith!

Chasing Mona Lisa's era alone should have held my interest but after a few chapters I puzzled at this particular novel's plot.
Leaving aside the improbable, albeit interesting historical possibility, it read very much like a 7th grader history lesson in internal French conflicts during Liberation and its questionable heroes and an art pamphlet! 
Still, the Mona Lisa was stolen once before and we all know how much priceless artwork was appropriated by the Occupying Forces so why not her after all? 

However not withstanding the baffling editing, i.e. one incident calls for a Ost soldier appearing yet two seems involved in the scuffle (?), the large Camembert (not even black market in 1944 could have produced this in the middle of the City of light) and the three pain rustique, reminiscent of the biblical multiplication of fish and loaves (?), you find yourself wondering if perhaps this novel was just aimed at young adults.

I had difficulties in visualizing any area of the Swiss border unchecked in 1944, a stupendous work of art hanging in a chateau's child room (do you really think such a possible billet for the Wehrmacht or Gestapo would not have been checked over if not appropriated?), or an airfield allowing Allied Forces to land and store aircraft in wartime Switzerland! (see here for info)...

This read very much like lots of facts thrown in for authenticity including the well documented OSS Colt .45, a smattering of French words and a detailed Swiss road map, all built around a plot which seems to leave characters (and readers) in confusion. 

In the end, this book only brought a big yawn and raised eyebrows.

As co authors in Chasing Mona Lisa, Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey just do not appear to have a winning combination. This is their second book, 'The Swiss Courrier' being the first of their cooperation. For readers who are interested, some of the characters of Chasing Mona Lisa appeared in The Swiss Courrier.

I rate it 3 stars!

“Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
I received this book free from BAKER REVELL as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not asked to write a positive review and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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