cover image The Lost van Gogh

The Lost van Gogh

Jonathan Santlofer. Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-7282-5896-6

In Santlofer’s scattershot sequel to 2021’s The Last Mona Lisa, artist Luke Perrone and his girlfriend, Alexis Verde, discover what may be a missing self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh hidden beneath a mundane painting Alexis bought at a New York City estate sale. The couple arranges to have the piece appraised, but Alexis is attacked and robbed on her way to meet the auditor. She and Luke reconnect with retired INTERPOL officer John Washington Smith to track the painting down. Santlofer alternates between Luke’s first-person narration and third-person sections from the perspectives of other characters, including Alexis and Smith, each of whom harbors secrets that complicate matters. Interspersed throughout are flashbacks to WWII-era France, when Resistance fighters attempted to smuggle valuable works of art out of occupied Paris. The relationship between Luke, who’s the great-grandson of a man who stole the Mona Lisa, and Alexis, daughter of a famous art thief, is rich and fascinating—the novel soars when they’re at the center. Unfortunately, the proceedings are too often bogged down by a surplus of subplots, secondary characters, and implausible contrivances. Art lovers and history buffs may find things to admire here, but it’s a mostly muddled affair. Agent: Jane von Mehren, Aevitas Creative. (Jan.)