Theft of the Master
Review: Edwin Alexander's debut novel, Theft of the Master, is an engrossing international thriller that effectively blends historical fact with a fictional story.
In 1493 the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tallinn, Estonia commissioned Veit Stoss, perhaps Germany's greatest wood-carver, to create a sculpture. The Church wanted a wooden altarpiece of Christ teaching his followers, the gospels. Six months later, Stoss' completed work was consecrated before a passionate, nationalistic congregation. Almost 500 years later, in 1992, a young woman, identified as Meg Gilchrist, has washed up on the shore of Half Moon Bay just south of San Francisco. Her parents, distraught by the death of their daughter, hire private investigator Al Hershey to look into whether it was an accident or murder. And what, if anything, could Stoss' masterpiece possibly have to do with this tragedy? Hershey has only the slimiest of leads that take him on a journey through three continents to solve the mystery of her death.
In a backstory to the main plot, the modern history of the sculpture reveals that the Nazi's stole it in 1941 and sent it to Paraguay. The general in charge of the transfer was ultimately captured and hanged; the sculpture was presumed lost. Alexander bases this part of the story on fact, as it is well documented that Hitler and his followers confiscated large quantities of artwork and had it moved for safekeeping; much of it even today remains undiscovered.
But the real thrill here is in following Hershey as he takes one step forward and two steps back in his investigation that has him traveling from Europe to South America and back to the United States. There are almost as many twists and turns in the plot as places in which Hershey finds himself searching for clues. The author provides vivid and detailed descriptions for the characters and locales in the book that add authenticity and depth to the story. And in between the international intrigue are glimpses of personal humor. It's all very well done.
From start to finish, Theft of the Master is a fast-paced and credible thriller that is not to be missed. It is highly recommended.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Theft of the Master.
Acknowledgment: Lisa Roe, Online Publicist provided a copy of Theft of the Master for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Theft of the Master: Estonia, California, Paraguay
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Theft of the Master by Edwin Alexander — An Al Hershey Mystery
Publisher: Garev Publishing
Publication Date: October 2007
List Price: $22.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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