5 out of 5 quills Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins ~~ A Review
Once again Ace Atkins nails it!! Old Black Magic is right up there with the best of Robert B. Parker’s previous books.
But readers better brush up on the history of Boston, as seen through Parker’s eyes, the hoodlums and mobsters over the past twenty years (introduced in the Spenser series) ’cause they all show back up, alive and dead. The biggest heist of millions of dollars in classic art from a museum in Boston and the case was never solved. It finally goes cold for over twenty years. Hired by the museum to find the art, Spenser and Vinnie Morris team up…odd bedfellows to say the least. ….and that’s all I’m giving you of the story line.
I don’t write spoilers in my reviews but I am known for sometimes running off on a tangent that has much or little to do with the book. So I thought it would be fun to see if the story plot had any truth to it…as truth tends to be stranger than fiction. Bingo!! Here’s what I found: El Greco’s Gentleman was stolen and not returned to its rightful owners for decades. But it was not a Boston crime crew who knocked it off but rather the Nazis!
‘In 1920, Mr. Priester began amassing a notable art collection of Old Masters, including the famous El Greco, which he displayed in his Vienna home and office. By 1938, however, Mr. Priester was forced to flee with his wife to Paris to escape the Nazis.
Before leaving, Mr. Priester entrusted his impressive collection to a friend, but the art was ultimately seized by the Gestapo after the Anschluss with Germany. At the end of the war in 1945, Mr. Priester, who had escaped to Mexico City, undertook an internationally publicized recovery effort with the help of the Austrian authorities, but his collection and the El Greco painting could not be located before his death.
After WWII, restitution of stolen art work would often take decades. But sometimes it could be accomplished seamlessly if the dealers who purchased the stolen art agreed to cooperate with the claimants, as recently occurred in the case of the stolen El Greco painting, Portrait of a Gentleman.
In a rare deal announced by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, representing the original owners, and Art Recovery International, representing the art gallery which acquired the looted painting in 2010, Portrait of a Gentleman was returned to the heirs of the collection of Julius Priester. This deal took several months to arrange after seven long decades searching for the masterpiece.’ (credit: Observer.com)
So I digress a little…sue me! But, am I the only one that finds stuff like this fascinating?
This is a terrific story and Ace Atkins tells it flawlessly in Robert B. Parker’s voice. I highly recommend it.
Did you miss my interview with Ace Atkins?
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MY features INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS! March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy. April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur. June: Mystery writer, Manning Wolfe.
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