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While restoring a 15th-century painting which depicts a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight, Julia, a young art expert, discovers a hidden inscription in the corner: Quis Necavit Equitem. Translation: Who killed the knight? Breaking the silence of five centuries, Julia's hunt for a Renaissance murderer leads her into a modern-day game of sin, betrayal, a While restoring a 15th-century painting which depicts a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight, Julia, a young art expert, discovers a hidden inscription in the corner: Quis Necavit Equitem. Translation: Who killed the knight? Breaking the silence of five centuries, Julia's hunt for a Renaissance murderer leads her into a modern-day game of sin, betrayal, and death.


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While restoring a 15th-century painting which depicts a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight, Julia, a young art expert, discovers a hidden inscription in the corner: Quis Necavit Equitem. Translation: Who killed the knight? Breaking the silence of five centuries, Julia's hunt for a Renaissance murderer leads her into a modern-day game of sin, betrayal, a While restoring a 15th-century painting which depicts a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight, Julia, a young art expert, discovers a hidden inscription in the corner: Quis Necavit Equitem. Translation: Who killed the knight? Breaking the silence of five centuries, Julia's hunt for a Renaissance murderer leads her into a modern-day game of sin, betrayal, and death.

30 review for The Flanders Panel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Roche

    I wanted so badly to love this book. The simplest way to describe it is the novelisation of Douglas Hofstadter's opus, "Godel, Escher, Bach." In fact, it is impossible to believe that Perez-Reverte had finished G.E.B. more than ten minutes before furiously scribing "The Flanders Panel." I wanted to love it because I love books based on puzzles and logic, and GEB may be one of my favorite books of all time. But the novel is just so weak. The characters (caricatures?) were flat and absurd - how many I wanted so badly to love this book. The simplest way to describe it is the novelisation of Douglas Hofstadter's opus, "Godel, Escher, Bach." In fact, it is impossible to believe that Perez-Reverte had finished G.E.B. more than ten minutes before furiously scribing "The Flanders Panel." I wanted to love it because I love books based on puzzles and logic, and GEB may be one of my favorite books of all time. But the novel is just so weak. The characters (caricatures?) were flat and absurd - how many times must we hear that one character was suave beyond comprehension or another gets more beautiful by the moment. The dramatic tension never took hold, and it was terribly hard to care whether any of them lived or died. I think the author knew the book didn't work. Virtually every scene is littered with descriptions of how interesting, beautiful, or fascinating the characters or scene was. The writing simply couldn't convey beauty, so he pulled out his labelmaker and applied enough adjectives to make certain you didn't miss it. If you love the idea of logical puzzles and playful minds, read "Godel Escher Bach". But leave "Flanders Panel" on the shelf.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Well that was just as good as I remembered. Everything I said below still holds true. The tale may have felt a bit more heavy handed this time, but I think that's only because I knew who the murderer was and as Sherlock Holmes says, "I only saw it because I knew what I was looking for." It didn't diminish the pleasure of the experience. This re-read had me focusing a lot more on characterization since I didn't have to be obsessively caught up in the mystery. What is beautifully done here is showi Well that was just as good as I remembered. Everything I said below still holds true. The tale may have felt a bit more heavy handed this time, but I think that's only because I knew who the murderer was and as Sherlock Holmes says, "I only saw it because I knew what I was looking for." It didn't diminish the pleasure of the experience. This re-read had me focusing a lot more on characterization since I didn't have to be obsessively caught up in the mystery. What is beautifully done here is showing the importance of story- the stories that we create for ourselves each day and our reluctance to deviate from the character that we've created for ourselves. It's the dark side of far too much education- if there's nothing new under the sun, then all that remains is to Choose Your Own Adventure to suit yourself. But yes, everyone I've recommended this to lately, I've checked on this, and I did not lead you astray! Feel free to proceed and enjoy! * * * * * Original Review: I discovered Arturo Perez-Reverte while in Paris on study abroad. This was incredibly unfortunate for me, as english language bookstores were limited, and my yen to read everything he's ever written became quite overwhelming. I still think fondly of that poor bookseller and his terrifed expression when I would walk in every week and demand: "Reverte, s'il vous plait!" But to the book itself. This book is quite well constructed. From beginning to climax to the hushed end, everything felt as if it was exactly as it should be, without being dull or predictable. Reverte specializes in the "chamber mystery," genre. Which I discovered is the kind of mystery that is right up my alley. He's very good at playing mind games with his readers and challenging them to solve the mystery along with the characters. I was personally too distracted with the beauty of what was being constructed to really devote all my mental energy to solving the puzzle, though. I finished this book in a feverish 48 hours of non-stop reading. I could not put it down. Perez-Reverte is capable of a feeling of quiet poetry in the events of his novel, his choices in terms of where to take them next. His style is certainly an homage to certain other genres, but he does it so gracefully and so well that not only does it translate into his own peculiar mixing of genre.. it translates beautifully from the Spanish original. (With only minor mistakes that I think are the fault of the translator and not the universal relatability of the writer's prose.) This is what a well told tale looks like.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    My friend Cathy (also a chessplayer) told me I had to read this, and she was indeed right. I couldn't put it down, and finished it in about a day. It's... well, what is it? I read it as a kind of postmodernist reimagining of Alice Through The Looking-Glass. Other books I immediately thought of were The Name of the Rose, Gödel, Escher, Bach and Luzhin's Defense. Formally, it's a very stylized murder mystery. Julia, the sexy but childlike Alice figure, is a Madrid art restorer. She receives an unu My friend Cathy (also a chessplayer) told me I had to read this, and she was indeed right. I couldn't put it down, and finished it in about a day. It's... well, what is it? I read it as a kind of postmodernist reimagining of Alice Through The Looking-Glass. Other books I immediately thought of were The Name of the Rose, Gödel, Escher, Bach and Luzhin's Defense. Formally, it's a very stylized murder mystery. Julia, the sexy but childlike Alice figure, is a Madrid art restorer. She receives an unusual commission, a 15th century painting of a chess game. There are multiple layers of reference: two of the people in the painting are playing chess, while the third one, a mysterious lady in black, watches. But they are also identified with the pieces, since it turns out that the picture contains a hidden message about the relationships between them, coded in the position of the game itself. Which in turn is reflected in the mirror shown on one side of the painting. The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Trini

    This disappointed me, especially since it came so highly recommended. I just couldn't buy into it though. The plot was absurd and unbelievable in numerous places. The characters lacked common sense. Let's see...someone is trying to kill me...I think I'll go out late at night by myself and cruise around the city, hail taxis, go to a nice restaurant, and then head back to my apartment for a quiet night by myself where the killer just so happens to know I live. That kind of crap really grated on me This disappointed me, especially since it came so highly recommended. I just couldn't buy into it though. The plot was absurd and unbelievable in numerous places. The characters lacked common sense. Let's see...someone is trying to kill me...I think I'll go out late at night by myself and cruise around the city, hail taxis, go to a nice restaurant, and then head back to my apartment for a quiet night by myself where the killer just so happens to know I live. That kind of crap really grated on me, but I pressed on only to be truly disgusted when I got to the last 20 pages or so. Most of chess aspects of the story have no real bearing on the outcome which is a let down, and the killer's motives along with the sheer implausibility of such a tidy ending managed to piss me off.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    I got this as a birthday present and took it with me on our Thanksgiving trip. I wish I had taken the Manhattan phone book instead. It would have had a lot more interesting characters and none of them would be such implausible things as the characters of this novel. The whole structure is so contrived it ultimately collapses under its own weight. The book is built around a convoluted metaphor like "art is chess is life is art," but the harder the author works at it, the more tenuous it becomes. I got this as a birthday present and took it with me on our Thanksgiving trip. I wish I had taken the Manhattan phone book instead. It would have had a lot more interesting characters and none of them would be such implausible things as the characters of this novel. The whole structure is so contrived it ultimately collapses under its own weight. The book is built around a convoluted metaphor like "art is chess is life is art," but the harder the author works at it, the more tenuous it becomes. The reader needs a degree in art history and a US Chess Federation rating of Expert or higher. Even with twenty-five pages of explanation at the end (always a bad sign), I still have no firm idea what motivated the villain to murder two people. I suspect this novel suffers from a pedestrian translation. It probably reads a lot better in Spanish. However, the author has to bear the onus of the cumbersome structure.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vaso

    I have read this book almost 16 years ago, but I still remember how fascinated I was after. For me, back in the '90-'00s, if you haven't read a book of Mr Reverte, couldn't have a clue about his writing skills! I recommend this one, to anyone who adores art and mystery, especially if they are bond so well in a book

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katerina

    The book's main theme is a painting by Peter van Huys. Julia is restoring paintings and a painting representing a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight is her current task. While running her tests she discovers a hidden message under the tablecloth saying: Who killed the knight? So Julia starts trying to solve the mystery of a murder that took place centuries ago. But murders start taking place around Julia and then the chess game becomes a death threat. Although the book starte The book's main theme is a painting by Peter van Huys. Julia is restoring paintings and a painting representing a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight is her current task. While running her tests she discovers a hidden message under the tablecloth saying: Who killed the knight? So Julia starts trying to solve the mystery of a murder that took place centuries ago. But murders start taking place around Julia and then the chess game becomes a death threat. Although the book started well, it left a quite strange taste in the end. I liked the idea of a puzzle and I followed the chess game closely and with interest. All the rest was that made the story strange and at the end uninteresting. The medieval murder is given an inexplicable importance. As if finding out who the murderer of Rose d'Arras would unbalance history. The nicest character is the book is the chess player. The rest of the characters start getting boring after a point. It seems that about half the way of the book the writer decided to prolong his story, so the endless thoughts are starting. The whole plot gets extravagant. And once you finish the book and find out what is happening, it just seems exaggerated and unreal.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Haider Hussain

    I had high hopes with this one. Alas! Flanders Panel opened up brilliantly and hooked me right in. Nonetheless, what started with arts and history culminates into a mundane anti-climax (You don’t see such a miserable finale often). Pathetic! No spoilers here, but I can’t help sharing a particularly foolish, absurd and downright annoying inference from such a sublime and graceful game of Chess. Hold your breaths and read this conversation between two characters: “The mathematical aspect of chess,” h I had high hopes with this one. Alas! Flanders Panel opened up brilliantly and hooked me right in. Nonetheless, what started with arts and history culminates into a mundane anti-climax (You don’t see such a miserable finale often). Pathetic! No spoilers here, but I can’t help sharing a particularly foolish, absurd and downright annoying inference from such a sublime and graceful game of Chess. Hold your breaths and read this conversation between two characters: “The mathematical aspect of chess,” he replied, unaffected by Julia’s ill humour, “gives the game a very particular character, something that specialists would define as anal sadistic. You know what I mean: chess as a silent battle between two men, evocative of terms such as aggression, narcissism, masturbation ... and homosexuality. Winning equals conquering the dominant father or mother, placing oneself above them. Losing equals defeat, submission” ... That’s fucking blasphemous. Don’t know what cheap drug Pérez-Reverte was on; perhaps he was anally abused by some chess player and decided to blame chess for it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Harold

    excellent! I love this blend of top shelf entertainment, intrigue and mystery which at the same time informs the reader of the mores of the Art World, the in and outs of restoring paintings, and, most prominently, the game of chess. As mediocre a player as I am, I was still able to follow the descriptions and logic of the moves and the use of a 500 year old chess game that is relevant to the mystery unfolding before us is just flat-out clever. Reverte also wrote The Club Dumas, another book that excellent! I love this blend of top shelf entertainment, intrigue and mystery which at the same time informs the reader of the mores of the Art World, the in and outs of restoring paintings, and, most prominently, the game of chess. As mediocre a player as I am, I was still able to follow the descriptions and logic of the moves and the use of a 500 year old chess game that is relevant to the mystery unfolding before us is just flat-out clever. Reverte also wrote The Club Dumas, another book that dazzled me with it's cleverness. Guess I'll have to obtain more Reverte!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    I loved it! This was a Goodreads recommendation based on my love of The Eight and it was dead on. The novel is a murder mystery played out as a game of chess on many levels linking the mysteries of the past to those of the present centered around a fifteenth century painting, aptly titled, The Game of Chess. Unlike The Eight, the story takes place in one time and city, though there is an element of magical realism as Julia gets so lost in her imaginings of the past that the painting pulls her in I loved it! This was a Goodreads recommendation based on my love of The Eight and it was dead on. The novel is a murder mystery played out as a game of chess on many levels linking the mysteries of the past to those of the present centered around a fifteenth century painting, aptly titled, The Game of Chess. Unlike The Eight, the story takes place in one time and city, though there is an element of magical realism as Julia gets so lost in her imaginings of the past that the painting pulls her in. Like The Eight what this novel does well is aggrandize chess into something more than a game, more than a tactical exercise, something old; like an aesthetic religion or ancient grimoire. Munoz, the novel’s chess master, comments, “Sometimes I wonder if chess is something man invented or if he merely discovered it. It's as if it were something that has always been there, since the beginning of the universe. Like whole numbers." Carl Sagan's Contact does something similar for pi, making it one of the first keys to unlocking the universe. If you like art, chess, history and mystery with a touch of the fantastical you will love this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have never been more insulted by a book than I have by this one. As a gay man, I have put up with a lot of insults, but the motivation behind the murderer is so absolutely cliché, stupid, and unrealistic that when I finished it, I threw it across the room. I also recoil at burning or throwing away this books, but I threw this one away. I didn't want any more people exposed to this crap.

  12. 4 out of 5

    AnaΣtaΣia

    Actually it is 3,5/5 stars but I didn't have the heart to put only 3 stars in this book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Hebwood

    Overall, I liked this fine. Characters had real depth, were idiosyncratic, querky, troubled, colourful, and well-developed. The plot was complex, and Arturo managed to create an unusual whodunit by peppering his detective story with elements from the arcane worlds of reverse-chess and philosophy of perception. Beginning to sound a little bit weird? Yes that is also what I thought. Sure, Arturo differentiates himself from the pack by writing something I might call a "literary thriller". But I cou Overall, I liked this fine. Characters had real depth, were idiosyncratic, querky, troubled, colourful, and well-developed. The plot was complex, and Arturo managed to create an unusual whodunit by peppering his detective story with elements from the arcane worlds of reverse-chess and philosophy of perception. Beginning to sound a little bit weird? Yes that is also what I thought. Sure, Arturo differentiates himself from the pack by writing something I might call a "literary thriller". But I could not shake the sensation that he was overdoing it a bit in this one, and as a consequence, the novel came over a little pretentious at times. The plot is clearly designed to play on the theme of self-referencing systems - for example if you said something like "this sentence is false". If this is the case, then it is true, which in turn would mandate that it is false, and so on. Arturo's plot would like to give rise to similar paradoxa, but does not always manage to do so convincingly. Indeed, the idea itself seems oddly familiar, and reminded me of Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach throughout, even before Arturo started making open references to it in several epigrams half way through the book. My major niggle is that it is not strictly speaking necessary to invoke ideas from GEB. All Arturo does in the end is to say that pieces in the fictional game of chess represent actual people in the real world - only he moves this idea back one layer, and in his story it relates to fictional characters discussing chess players in an oilpainting (the "metafictional" level, if you like). Arturo could have done this in a much less convoluted way and the plot would have lost nothing. In particular, we do not need allusions to Bach's fugues. These have absolutely no significance in the plot and feel forced into the story - no doubt Arturo needed the presence of Bach to complete references to his apparently beloved GEB. Still, if you can overlook a few intellectual vanities here and there, and the damage they do to the flow of the story, I think this is well worth picking up.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louize

    "I would say that chess has more to do with the art of murder than it does with the art of war.” The Flanders Panel is the picture of Chess in its truest form. Every piece is a character. Every move is an influence. To win it, you must cross death. “Amazing,” he murmured. There is no better word to describe it. The enigma itself may not be that surprising, but the steps undertaken to manipulate, and likewise, to uncover it was engaging. ooo------------------ooo--------------------ooo--------------- "I would say that chess has more to do with the art of murder than it does with the art of war.” The Flanders Panel is the picture of Chess in its truest form. Every piece is a character. Every move is an influence. To win it, you must cross death. “Amazing,” he murmured. There is no better word to describe it. The enigma itself may not be that surprising, but the steps undertaken to manipulate, and likewise, to uncover it was engaging. ooo------------------ooo--------------------ooo-------------------ooo “It‟s usually the father who teaches the child his first moves in the game. And the dream of any son who plays chess is to beat his father." This book brought about some bittersweet memories -of long Friday afternoons at the "Y", watching my Dad and his good friend "Papang" play chess. These would start with their usual question, "Mahusay na klase ka ba?" When either of them got tired, my brothers and I would substitute - then, the same question would be repeated. In life, it doesn't matter kung mahusay na klase ka; but you have to make your best moves to live life, and make our parents proud. "Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape, whose borders are continually shifting, where all frontiers are artificial, where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again or finish suddenly, for ever and ever, like an unexpected blow from an axe. Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality is death." I hope I make sense because... "It's a shame you don't play chess, Senorita."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Like other Pérez-Reverte books, this one initially consumed me. All the elements of his novels are present: interesting and complex characters, a modern mystery that plays out against a historical backdrop, in-depth descriptions that bring to life arcane subjects - in Club Dumas the antique book trade, in Fencing Master fencing, in this book, chess. Unlike other Pérez-Reverte books, however, this one lost me in the last quarter when the mystery was resolved. I found the revelation of who and why Like other Pérez-Reverte books, this one initially consumed me. All the elements of his novels are present: interesting and complex characters, a modern mystery that plays out against a historical backdrop, in-depth descriptions that bring to life arcane subjects - in Club Dumas the antique book trade, in Fencing Master fencing, in this book, chess. Unlike other Pérez-Reverte books, however, this one lost me in the last quarter when the mystery was resolved. I found the revelation of who and why relatively implausible and yet predictable at the same time. And taking 50 pages to explain everything was just too much. So my verdict: great airplane fodder that falls short at the end. Read Club Dumas or Fencing Master for Pérez-Reverte at the top of his game.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Read as a trashy mystery novel, there's really nothing objectionable about this, although for some reason, I was really expecting more. Especially galling was the villain, complete with a needlessly complicated, and mostly pointless, plan that seems to exist only so that the novel might exist. When the villain finally gives an explanatory monologue at the end, the rationale is, quite frankly, kind of offensive (and it feels unintentionally so). The chess and historical subplots ended up seeming r Read as a trashy mystery novel, there's really nothing objectionable about this, although for some reason, I was really expecting more. Especially galling was the villain, complete with a needlessly complicated, and mostly pointless, plan that seems to exist only so that the novel might exist. When the villain finally gives an explanatory monologue at the end, the rationale is, quite frankly, kind of offensive (and it feels unintentionally so). The chess and historical subplots ended up seeming rather superficial. The chess, especially, seemed far too elementary to hang much of a plot on, while simultaneously being treated with far too much reverence and symbolic import by the characters.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Snoozie Suzie

    I really enjoyed this to start, but by the end I was disappointed. What didn't bother me at the beginning did in the end as it was kind of unfinished due to lack of character involvement/development which left it all hanging a bit and so unsatisfactory. The chess side of things was very clever, but got a bit overwhelming toward the end I felt. But a clever alternative view of a murder mystery. In a way it reminds me of a Nancy Drew mystery as they often revolved around objects.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marie desJardins

    I found this book very tedious, from the turgid writing style (translated too literally from the original Spanish, I suspect) to the excessively detailed chess expositions to the surprisingly boring analyses of the medieval mystery of the white knight's death. The misogyny and homophobia throughout the book are problematic too. It was interesting enough to keep reading, but unappealing enough that I regret having stuck with it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gigi

    After first reading this cleverly constructed mystery more than a decade ago, I've made the happy discovery that it stands up to re-reading. I don't play chess, but I still found it thoroughly enigmatic and engaging.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    On paper I should have loved this book. It dealt with medieval history, art restoration, chess, deduction, ...AND MURDER. Also the whole book has a very 90s feel about it. At times I felt like I was watching a VHS copy of a Double Jeopardy era mystery/suspense film. Kinda fun. And yet, something held it back from being great. I’m still trying to put my finger on what it was, to be honest. Occasionally the translation felt clunky, and frequently, the novel’s action was told rather than shown. I f On paper I should have loved this book. It dealt with medieval history, art restoration, chess, deduction, ...AND MURDER. Also the whole book has a very 90s feel about it. At times I felt like I was watching a VHS copy of a Double Jeopardy era mystery/suspense film. Kinda fun. And yet, something held it back from being great. I’m still trying to put my finger on what it was, to be honest. Occasionally the translation felt clunky, and frequently, the novel’s action was told rather than shown. I found issues both off-putting to a degree, but the story was interesting enough to keep me engaged. All in all, it was a fun, quick read. It’s got its faults to be sure. But, it was amusing to see so many topics blended into a single story, and ultimately, the book was more compelling than I care to admit.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vitor Hugo Vergilio

    Loved it. Like the other one before. I really didn't see it coming :)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    This book, my second from the author, contains all the ingredients that should make it an engrossing read: art, medieval history, and mystery. However, after slogging through it for several days, I find the main mystery to be too contrived to be believable (that 20-page exposition at the end by the villain scarcely helps at all), and the other ingredients merely garnish instead of an integral part of the story. Sure, there are plenty of literary allusions (we are beaten over the head with the on This book, my second from the author, contains all the ingredients that should make it an engrossing read: art, medieval history, and mystery. However, after slogging through it for several days, I find the main mystery to be too contrived to be believable (that 20-page exposition at the end by the villain scarcely helps at all), and the other ingredients merely garnish instead of an integral part of the story. Sure, there are plenty of literary allusions (we are beaten over the head with the ones to the Sherlock Holmes stories and they become annoying after a while) and artistic references (Breughel, Bosch, Bach) but unlike, say in The Name of the Rose Including Postscript, most of them seem to be random and merely incidental to the main story. The ‘mystery’ contained in the painting, despite all the ominous hints earlier in the story, turns out to be scarcely any mystery at all, which is doubly disappointing after the weak main whodunit practically collapses under its own weight. That said, I must confess that the other ingredient in the story --- the chess game --- is completely above my head, and that I'm largely oblivious of its role in the mystery. What eventually save this novel are the strengths that become more apparent in Perez-Reverte’s subsequent books such as The Club Dumas: the atmospheric evocation of old-world European cities and the creative use of arcana. SPOILER WARNING. Do not read the following if you don’t want to find out about the ending. Munoz, the Sherlock figure/chess master of the novel, stumbles upon the solution of the mystery through a pseudo-Freudian analysis of his mysterious opponent in the chess game. His theory is that men and women players betray their gender identity by favoring certain pieces, and the homosexual villain is found out because he chooses to indulge his feminine side by favoring the bishop, “ the chess piece that best embodies homosexuality”, with its “deep, diagonal movement”. Munoz also has another theory about how chess is not only oedipal, but also “anal sadistic” --- but let’s not get into that. Later, it turns out that the villain has been using a computer program to play, thus disproving Munoz’s hokey analysis. It’s a clever subversion of the omniscient detective figure, but it also means that Munoz finds the solution through sheer chance instead of deductive ability. We also never find out whether Julia and Munoz go through with Cesar’s criminal plan for the sale of the painting in the black market. I wish that Perez-Reverte had told us and explored some of its legal and moral ramifications. It would have made him a truly excellent chess player in my book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Silvia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Half way into this book I was almost ready to give it up. However, some morbid curiosity kept me going. I still hoped that, somewhere along the last lines, there will be an unexpected series of events, a revelation, a smarter ending. But no, the flat characters lived up their predictable ending. Actually, I am wrong. Not all endings were so predictable. For Cesar, the ending was horrid. I could see that, throughout the book, the author does not think that highly of gay people or even women (they Half way into this book I was almost ready to give it up. However, some morbid curiosity kept me going. I still hoped that, somewhere along the last lines, there will be an unexpected series of events, a revelation, a smarter ending. But no, the flat characters lived up their predictable ending. Actually, I am wrong. Not all endings were so predictable. For Cesar, the ending was horrid. I could see that, throughout the book, the author does not think that highly of gay people or even women (they are always so beautiful, described only through their physical traits, and hey, they can't be that good at playing chess because apparently they care too much about what other people think) - but to kill your gay antagonist by giving him with a rectal tumor? *Really? *(well this is not what killed him, but anyway, what helped put this entire charade into motion). Now back to the plot. It was thin, poorly laid out, and I got tired from all the long paragraphs in which the author basically tells me how I am supposed to feel. Not to mention the long phrases describing how Julia is so beautiful and how she smokes so much. The scary parts were funny at best, and the entire style was too pretentious for my taste. I would have given this one star if it were not for the thorough documentation that was put into this. But honestly, all those chess parts, although well-researched, I am sure, were at times bit superfluous for those of us who don't play. Bottom line, I would gladly invest my time in other kinds of murder-mystery books.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    For the most part "The Flanders Panel" was a disappointment. It was undoubtedly well-researched, but the plot didn't grab me. I never felt that tug pulling me to the book and forcing me to continue reading. I could put it down at any moment. I like this author, but I found this book cliched and shallow. The characters lacked depth, and there was a repetitive quality to the prose, so that I found myself correctly anticipating how a sentence would end. I had difficulty connecting with his world of For the most part "The Flanders Panel" was a disappointment. It was undoubtedly well-researched, but the plot didn't grab me. I never felt that tug pulling me to the book and forcing me to continue reading. I could put it down at any moment. I like this author, but I found this book cliched and shallow. The characters lacked depth, and there was a repetitive quality to the prose, so that I found myself correctly anticipating how a sentence would end. I had difficulty connecting with his world of fine art and antiques. Maybe that's just my problem as far as choice of reading material, but I think Perez-Reverte is a more inventive writer than that. And then the central mystery, "Ooooh, I'm scared, somebody left chess moves on my car! Gasp!" Just not very thrilling. But I would recommend "Queen of the South" to anyone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    I really wanted to like this book because the premise was so great. Guess I wasn't quite enough the intellectual to understand all the philosopher references, all the Latin, and, of course, the chess - even though the chess-game-run-backwards was painfully explained at one point (even enough for this novice to understand). Plus the characters were not believable and seemed stereotyped. The author went out of his way to describe one's beauty, and one's sophistication, etc., ad nauseum. Great premi I really wanted to like this book because the premise was so great. Guess I wasn't quite enough the intellectual to understand all the philosopher references, all the Latin, and, of course, the chess - even though the chess-game-run-backwards was painfully explained at one point (even enough for this novice to understand). Plus the characters were not believable and seemed stereotyped. The author went out of his way to describe one's beauty, and one's sophistication, etc., ad nauseum. Great premise, poor characterization. What worked was the description of the painting and the 15th century mystery explained. Interesting how one was made to feel inside the painting. My interest waned when I found myself inside a chess game. Guess if I'd been a chess player, I would have liked that more.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marky

    I don't remember how I got a hold of this book, but one day I found it while cleaning my bookshelves. The book started off pretty good, captivating mystery and murder story, reminded me of The Da Vinci Code a little. But boy, by the middle of the book the story was getting weirder and weirder and the ending was completely unrealistic and unbelievable. I would not recommend this book at all. If you want a good mystery book, try The Da Vinci Code. If you want a good murder book, any of Agatha Chris I don't remember how I got a hold of this book, but one day I found it while cleaning my bookshelves. The book started off pretty good, captivating mystery and murder story, reminded me of The Da Vinci Code a little. But boy, by the middle of the book the story was getting weirder and weirder and the ending was completely unrealistic and unbelievable. I would not recommend this book at all. If you want a good mystery book, try The Da Vinci Code. If you want a good murder book, any of Agatha Christie's books will do.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Perez-Reverte writes fast-paced witty novels, mostly based in his home country of Spain. The Flanders Panel was the first of his that I read, and maybe the very best. It has a mystery and a puzzle about the Flanders Panel, which (if I remember, after many years), has a hidden message in it that reveals an old mystery. Wonderful book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    William

    This is a murder mystery fundamentally, but one so cerebral and smart that you may not recognize it. If you like chess, that helps, but I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this intellectual romp. reminiscent of The Eight, but without the fantasy elements.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)

    It is one of the most intelligent thrillers I have ever read. The five hundred years old game of chess from an old painting comes to life. Ancient mystery, romance and murder enchanted on canvas and mirrored in reality. And only one question remains: who killed the Knight?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ana-Maria Bujor

    I left this book feeling the author did not really ave a story and just made up stuff on the spot. I think this would have made a great short story about discovering the story behind the painting via chess. And stop there. But no, there is some convoluted and needlessly graphic murder plot that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The motivations of the killer left me scratching my head and I've read quite a few crime novels with outlandish premises. Which is disappointing, because the part of p I left this book feeling the author did not really ave a story and just made up stuff on the spot. I think this would have made a great short story about discovering the story behind the painting via chess. And stop there. But no, there is some convoluted and needlessly graphic murder plot that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The motivations of the killer left me scratching my head and I've read quite a few crime novels with outlandish premises. Which is disappointing, because the part of playing chess back, reconstructing the moves in order to find out the murderer is so good. It's interesting, intellectually stimulating and quite unique. But all goes downhill due to lackluster dialogue (anything not connected to chess or the painting is pure cringe), cartoony characters (the sassy gay man, the brilliant and quiet chess player and Samantha from Sex and the City + cocaine) and dumb plot. The main character barely has something to do, but she's pretty, which is something we find out again and again. Also the ending makes her quite a d*ck, together with Munoz ((view spoiler)[oh well the men I loved and my best friend died horrible deaths, but we can buy pretty things now! (hide spoiler)] ). And even the chess thing that was supposed to be the smart thing in the book falls flat. ((view spoiler)[the killer was supposed to have used a computer to play chess, but the game was carefully rigged to lose; did he program the computer to protect the queen? (hide spoiler)] ) And don't even get me started on the sexual interpretations of chess. Like moving in diagonals? You're gay! Overall a wasted opportunity with a plot that makes no sense and bad characters. I prefer crime books with stupid plots that know what they are and don't pretend to be anything else. At least that's entertaining bad.

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