cover image Landscape of Lies

Landscape of Lies

Peter Watson, Ronald Ed. Watson. Scribner Book Company, $18.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12083-1

When someone tries to steal a medieval painting long owned by her family, Isobel Sadler turns for help to London art gallery owner Michael Whiting. She is amazed to learn that the picture, titled Landscape of Lies , is a ``puzzle map'' whose nine male figures each symbolize priceless silver relics that were squirreled away by monks when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. Isobel and Michael--who, naturally, fall in love--set out to find the treasure, but an obsessed academic who will stop at nothing, not even murder, stays a few steps ahead of them. Watson, who proved himself a master of the art-world thriller in The Caravaggio Conspiracy , has turned out an amiable entertainment that is more a self-indulgent exercise than a suspense novel. The path to the silver is strewn with red herrings and arcane clues involving Botticelli, the Bible, horticulture, classical lore and medieval iconography. (Jan.)