Friday, July 21, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Cellini Masterpiece by Raymond John

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Cellini Masterpiece by Raymond John. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Cellini Masterpiece by Raymond John

The Cellini Masterpiece by Raymond John
North Star Press of St. Cloud (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-87839-233-5 (0878392335)
ISBN-13: 978-0-87839-233-9 (9780878392339)
Publication Date: July, 2006
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Why ... would one of the world’s richest men resort to kidnapping and murder to possess a drawing for an unknown 16th century work by Benvenuto Cellini ... especially when the work itself was lost more than half a century ago? That is the question that American Rick Olsen must answer as he tries to save his kidnapped brother. What begins as a rescue mission soon turns into a harrowing adventure and a world threatening battle of wits with an international terrorist. The story, a timeless adventure set in the ancient streets of Malta, also has an unexpected romance.

Review: As a work of historical fiction, The Cellini Masterpiece is a terrific book. It has an intriguing premise and a well considered plot. There is little doubt that author Raymond John performed an extensive amount of research on Cellini and Malta that is reflected in this story, and he clearly has a great deal of respect for the country and its people. The problem is that, as marketed, The Cellini Masterpiece isn't much of a mystery or a thriller.

Rick Olsen is drawn to Malta at the request of his brother who has discovered a lost drawing of a work of art by Benbenuto Cellini. Even before he can exit the airport, Rick is accosted and robbed of his personal possessions. This is the first of numerous risky situations in which Rick finds himself throughout the book, sometimes of his own accord, but in any given situation there is no immediate sense of danger. Rick soon learns that his brother has been kidnapped, but there is no sense of urgency on Rick's part to ascertain where he is being held and by whom. The only true emotion Rick shows is his growing affection for Caterina, yet ironically the romantic subplot is the weakest element of the story.

John handles his narrative well, and as fiction, The Cellini Masterpiece is certainly enjoyable. But his lack of depth and dimension in the characters and the general absence of tension weaken the overall impression of the book when considered as a mystery or thriller.

Special thanks to Raymond John for providing an ARC of The Cellini Masterpiece for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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