When the book opens, Lydia Dean, receives a rare walk-in client to the London auction house in which she works. Major Phillip Manners presents a piece of rock with a painting of a bull on it, they both understand this work is likely 12,000 years old and from the Lascaux region of France. Dean lets Major Manners know that the work will have to go back to France, but once authenticated, it is possible a “thank you” in the form of a monetary gift might come from a grateful country to him. Overnight, however, the rock is stolen, and now there are two mysteries to solve: 1) is this rock from the Caves of Perigord in Lascaux and 2) who stole the rock and how do they get it back.
What follows is a fascinating thriller told in three separate time narratives. The first is the present day, with Lydia Dean and Major Manners playing detective in France. The second takes us all the way back to the prehistoric man, when we find out how the painting came to be. Lastly, we are transported to France during World War II, where Major Manners’ father works with the French Resistance to defeat the Germans, and where he originally finds and pockets and rock.
It was an interesting story, but the World War II sections seemed to be pretty dry. I’m not sure why they seemed the least interesting to me, because I greatly enjoy World War II narratives, but there it is. So I’m knocking off a half star for that.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2002
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