Reviews

The Night Gate By Peter May @authorpetermay @riverrunbooks #TheNightGate #PeterMay #BookReview #TheClqrt #BookBlog

Riverrun August 2021

Book Description

In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house. The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.

Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensic expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter. Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.

And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.

Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting our of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28 year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it moved from chateau to chateau, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Goring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.

My Thoughts

This book has sat on my shelf for a little while, but mood reader that I am, I was drawn to it recently, hence this review. I was expecting some dark crime fiction and although that wasn’t what this book was, it was actually a book I enjoyed immensely. A combination of crime and historical fiction, I found myself intrigued by the facts of the story and buying into all sorts of conspiracy theories relating to the Mona Lisa.

Set in the present day, retired Forensic Expert Enzo McLeod finds himself drawn into a murder investigation, you’ve read the blurb so I won’t repeat but as McLeod meticulously investigates, links between the bodies emerge. The story is also told in a ‘then’ time frame which takes the form of an elderly lady recalling the story of Georgette Pignal, a young French woman tasked by General Charles De Gaulle to look after the Mona Lisa during the war. The story is fascinating, the plot is strong and the ‘then and now’ format worked very well, the historical aspect I really enjoyed, but must confess I knew little of the Mona Lisa’s war time adventures!

I wasn’t familiar with this crime series prior to picking up this book, but it quickly became apparent to me that Enzo McLeod has quite a back story, while this worked reading it as a standalone I do prefer to read series in order. I am intrigued about the books that came before, because this book was packed full of research as evidenced by the historical detail and I am mightily impressed if that is a reflection of the other books in the series.

I would recommend this one, I can’t comment on the series obviously but will say this one is very much worth reading, personally I will try to go back to book number one and let you know!

Thanks as always for reading.

About the Author

Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BBC, he quit journalism and, during the high-octane fifteen years that followed, became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists.

He has won several literary awards in France, received the USA’s Barry Award for The Blackhouse – the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy; and in 2014 Entry Island was awarded the ITV Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year. May now lives in South-West France with his wife, writer Janice Hally.

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