Friday, February 12, 2016

Lost Chalice Review

The Lost Chalice by Vernon Silver

(from the back of the book)
Spanning 2,500 years and moving from a Trojan War battlefield to an Athens pottery workshop to an Italian crypt, and involving tomb robbers, smugglers, a Hollywood producer, and a Texas billionaire, The Lost Chalice is a pulse-pounding real-life adventure story involving the search for an ancient masterpiece missing for more than a decade.  Created by Euphronios, an artist renowned as the Leonardo da Vinci of ancient Greece, the chalice disappeared in 1990 after an anonymous European dealer outbid the Metropolitan Museum of Art in an auction at Sotheby’s.

Like City of Falling Angels and The Monster of Florence, The Lost Chalice uses a high-profile crime to open a window onto Italian history, culture, and life.  The cup’s tale mirrors the life story of a mysterious contemporary dealer who made a fortune trading in antiquities – including the chalice – supplying the world’s greatest museums and rich collectors with artifacts from archaeological sites.  The Maserati-driving art dealer holds the key to finding and saving the lost cup, but the discovery of the chalice’s fate reveals another riddle – and even greater missing treasure.

The Lost Chalice follows the hunt for an ancient piece of art that everyone knows exists but no one can seem to find.  Along the way you learn about art history, grave robbing, how people tried to stop grave robbing, how art objects with shady pasts get false histories, art auctions, and the way that museums acquire pieces.  All of which turned out to be much more interesting than I thought it would be.  And the author really knows his stuff.  I think part of my problem was that I have no art history knowledge.  It was tough for me to get into this story.  It started slowly and was talking about chalices, vases, cups, kraters, and kylixes and it took me a minute to realize that despite all the terms there were only two objects being discussed and it took me even longer to be able to keep the two straight.  So it was a bit of a slog at first.  But then I got into the story, even though there was a bit more detail than I think was needed at times, it was interesting to watch the story of the chalice unfold.  It reads a lot like a detective story as with a few vague clues people try to make sense of the muddy history of the chalice and figure out where it came from, where it went and everything that happened to it in between.  If you have no background in art history you may find it slow going in the beginning but it worth pushing on.  It has a little something for anyone who likes a detective story, true crime, or history.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Books of 2016

1. Intent to Kill by James Grippando - 356
2. Virtual Unreality by Charles Seife - 256
3. Explorer X-Alpha by L.M. Preston - 366
4. The Lost World and Other Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle - 461
5. The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers - 261
6. Dragonbreath: The Frozen Menace by Ursula Vernon - 201
7. Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon - 247
8. Bag of Bones by Stephen King - 732
9. Blood Rites by Jim Butcher - 372
10. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli - 82
11. Miist by Kamilla Reid -313
12. Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett - 292
13. Coming to My Senses by Claire H. Blatchford - 153
14. Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede - 212
15. Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon - 372
16. Defcon One by Joe Weber - 334
17. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross - 422
18. Even in Paradise by Elizabeth Nunez - 320
19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 180
20. Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan - 335
21. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin - 258
22. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli - 81
23. Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers - 212
24. Sweet September by Tricia Goyer - 246
25. Quill by Kamilla Reid - 384
26. Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley - 163
27. Tome by Kamilla Reid
28. Equatoria by Richard Price
29. Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - 720
30. How The Elephant Got His Trunk: The Graphic Novel by Blake Hoena
31. Big City Otto by Bill Slavin
32. Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen - 395
33. Single & Single by John Le Carre
34. Man on the Washing Machine by Susan Cox - 292
35. Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke - 290
36. Mata Hari's Last Dance by Michelle Moran - 255
37. What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein - 269
38. Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robinson - 282
39. I Am No One by Patrick Flanery
40. Changing of the Guard by Steve Perry
41. Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
42. Butterfly Islands by Chris Seabranch
43. John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
44. Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin
45. Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
46. Guile by Constance Cooper
47. Thirst by Benjamin Warner
48. Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar
49. Invoice by Jonas Karlsson - 204
50. When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey
51. Reckless Endangerment by Robert K. Tanenbaum - 438
52. Butcher Bird by S.D. Sykes
53. Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron
54. Queen of the Dark Chamber by Christiana Tsai - 160
55. Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham - 164
56. Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder - 148
57. Where's My Jetpack? by Daniel Wilson
58. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher - 424
59. Remember the Alamo by Robert Penn Warren - 178