cover image The Last Judgment: A Jonathan Argyll Mystery

The Last Judgment: A Jonathan Argyll Mystery

Iain M. Pears. Scribner Book Company, $20.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-81459-9

The latest (mis)adventure of art historian Jonathan Argyll delivers its plot twists at a rapid clip right up to the closing pages, where Jonathan's lover, Flavia di Stefano of Rome''s Art Theft Department, cuts straight to the tale's core of murderous greed. Jonathan agrees to hand-deliver a small, undistinguished painting from a Paris art dealer to Arthur Muller, the buyer in Rome. But in short order, someone tries to steal the painting from Jonathan; Muller is tortured and murdered; a man carrying both Muller's and Jonathan's addresses is also killed; and French authorities demand that Jonathan return the painting, which might be stolen. While Jonathan restores the painting to its rightful owner, who turns out to be a hero from the French Resistance, Flavia discovers that Muller was obsessed with learning about his father--whose own wartime death and Resistance involvement were apparently less honorable. Graced with a sharp intellect and terrier-like tenacity, Flavia charges on, even when Jonathan's courage flags and the French powers-that-be are deliberately unhelpful. By giving his sleuths an ample supply of dirty little secrets to unearth and solve, Pears (The Bernini Bust) keeps them and his readers well occupied. (Apr.)