This past week I read A Discerning Eye by Carol Orange. The novel takes place in 1990 Boston and Medellin, Colombia. The main character, Portia Malatesta, is an art gallery owner and docent at The Gardner Museum. An art lover her whole life, she is absolutely heartbroken when some paintings are stolen from The Gardner. One of the stolen paintings is “The Concert” by Vermeer. The loss of this particular painting is especially upsetting for her because she used to sit in front of it and study it regularly with her late brother. With the painting gone, she felt like she had lost a connection to her brother.
Her obsession with finding the paintings leads her to start an investigation on her own. She studies the similarities amongst the stolen art and eventually thinks she has a profile of the thief. After some inquiries and working connections she begins to work with the FBI and Interpol who believe that the art loving son-in-law of a drug lord in Medellin, Colombia may be behind the heist and is hiding the stolen works in a secret room in his villa.
I really liked the novel and fun fact I actually took an art history class in college and loved it. I had wanted to take art history practically my whole time in college, but could never fit it into my schedule. Finally during my senior year I was able to take it and I really enjoyed it so I have an appreciation for the subject matter in the novel. Plus, I loved following Portia around Colombia trying to secretly investigate and recover the stolen art. She befriends the suspects, who are so charming and likable that you almost don’t want them to be caught if they are in fact guilty.
The only thing I thought could make the novel better is if there was some sort of twist. I love a good twist! But, it was more of a straight forward investigation/mystery story without a lot of surprises. There were a few things in the novel that I thought would end up being a twist, but they didn’t happen. That’s not a real problem though, just a preference. Overall, I enjoyed the novel!
*I was sent this book complimentary, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.*