Bantam, Jul 2004, 25.00
Middle age art restorer Charlotte Penton travels to Urbino, Italy to work on a fabulous project, restoring a faded Raphael painting, La Muta, The Silent Woman. The renovation assignment is difficult as Charlotte must first peel away the previous “repairs” to get to the basic masterpiece. Then she applies skill, experience and guesswork to mend the painting.
Following Charlotte to Urbino is youthful Canadian media star Donna Ricco, who is the pretty girl frontal visage for an arts restoration program. Donna quickly finds the tedious meticulous work boring, but knows she must bear it if she is to get ahead in her career. When a mute woman defames the masterpiece, the two visitors see it differently. Charlotte is appalled but wants to learn why while a gleeful Donna sees a terrific story. As the two North Americans combine resources to learn the truth, they will open up secrets from the war and much more about grandmasters that the town's elderly want left hidden.
The mystery within a mystery is embedded in an incredible background tidal wave of art, history, legends with a hint of the paranormal, local politics, and religion. The lead duo are dynamic opposites except both have energy that will make a marathon runner feel like a couch potato. Fans of crime thrillers with an edge will want to read WAKING RAPHAEL and obtain Leslie Forbes' previous tales, BOMBAY ICE and FISH, BLOOD AND BONE as this reviewer plans to do.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner