2 mystery reviews: The Flanders Panel and The Man on the Balcony

Originally published in April 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte is a murder mystery tied up in a chess-game in a painting and in reality. The painting is a 15th century panel by a Flemish master, which the heroine, an art restorer, must clean and restore before it can to be auctioned off. She discovers a hidden inscription in the painting, and when her ex-lover is murdered and a mysterious person starts leaving cards with chess moves on them where she can find them, it looks as if the two events are connected. She receives assistance in solving the mystery from a chess-player, and from her two best friends, an art gallery owner and a slippery antiques dealer.

This is a good, spooky, twisty mystery with a chess game at its heart. Even if you know nothing about chess, you can still enjoy it - I only know how the chessmen move around the board, and I liked it.
3 stars.


The Man on the Balcony by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö is a totally different kind of crime mystery. It is a police procedural, the third in a series, and features Martin Beck and his co-workers at the Stockholm CID. The story is bleak and gloomy, but thrilling, and describes the massive search for a serial killer of children who is on the loose in the city. The story is all the more chilling for the realism in the narrative, and could easily be a true account of a real crime.

This is an especially good read for lovers of realistic and true crime stories. 3 stars.


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