“On March 18, 1990, in the wee hours of the morning, two men dressed as police officers obtained entry into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Holding the guards at gunpoint, the thieves marched them to the basement and proceeded to blindfold and handcuff them. Then the pair returned to the upper floors and, for the next eighty-one minutes, stole eleven paintings/drawings and two artifacts valued at $500 million….. The Gardner Museum robbery is considered one of the highest valued thefts of private property in history. In the years following the heist, FBI, investigative reporters, professional art recovery specialists, and amateur detectives have spent hundreds of man hours trying to locate the paintings. As of this book’s publication, all the artworks remain at large. The Gardner Museum has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the masterpieces.”
Isabella’s Painting is the first book in the Karina Cardinal Mystery series by Ellen Butler. This is an excellent mystery- with danger, intrigue, action, suspense, humour, drama, the mafia, FBI, and a priceless stolen painting. Even though the story itself is fiction, it is based on a real- life robbery that happened back in 1990- which baffled investigators, and still remains unsolved all these years later. The author has done an amazing job of tying her story together with the actual events, blending the two together quite brilliantly.
Karina Cardinal is a lawyer turned lobbyist in Washington D.C. She’s smart, independent and hard-working. She’s doing well, with a good career and a great boyfriend. Even though she and Patrick haven’t been together all that long, things are getting serious between them and everything seems to be pointing to them taking the next step. But, when the two attend a Christmas party at Patrick’s parents place, Karina inadvertently sees something she wasn’t meant to- a painting which was stolen nearly three decades earlier and was part of a much bigger heist. Karina can’t believe her eyes and proceeds to do some investigating. What she uncovers places her in quite a predicament- not only jeopardising her job, her relationship, and her morals- but also her life. When an old college friend, now FBI Agent, joins the mix, things get really interesting….
This is a fantastic story, that had me totally engrossed from beginning to end. It has a fast pace, a smooth flow and was really easy to read. The characters are really well crafted into fully realised individuals. There must have been an incredible amount of research that went into the planning of this book, because there are so many elements woven into this story, small inter-connected details which gives the whole thing authenticity- and making it entirely believability, and also quite memorable. This book has a complex, and multi-layered storyline which is brought to life by the vividly descriptive story-telling, and by Ms. Butler’s meticulous attention to detail/s. She has woven a very polished mystery , full of surprises which kept me guessing the whole way through.
I can’t wait to dive into “Fatal Legislation” (Book #2), due for release in December 2018.
Thank you, Ms. Butler!
Reviewed by @angelahayes