Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: The Bruges Tapestry by P.A. Staes


Following a 500-year-old mystery concerning a Flemish tapestry is routine work for Detective Claire DeMaer, since she's employed by the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. But, unlike past cases, this one involves arresting Paolo Campezzi, lover to her best friend Nora. Mr. Campezzi is a distant descendant of a Florentine Duke, who commissioned the tapestry in 1520 in Bruges, Belgium.

Claire finds that she must explore the true provenance of the tapestry, free Mr. Campezzi in order to re-establish her friendship with Nora and depend on the expertise of a textile expert she doesn't know. All this must occur in 72 hours, before the Vatican takes the tapestry back.

But Claire isn't the only one with the Vatican looking over her shoulder.  Claire's story intertwines with a 1520 diary by Beatrice van Hecke, the tapestry-weaver's daughter. Only Claire can discover the secret that is woven in time.

Createspace | August 29, 2012 | 254 pages

My Review

3 Stars

The Bruges Tapestry is a time slip novel that alternates between modern-day California and 16th century Belgium.   At the centre of this novel is a 500-year old tapestry that has recently been stolen from the Vatican, a tapestry that happens to be hanging in the home of Detective Claire DeMaer's best friend Nora's new boyfriend, Paolo.   The case against Paolo isn't as straightforward as it first appears, however, as he claims he was simply taking back what was rightfully the property of his family.   Although Paolo has no evidence to back up his claims, Claire, in an effort to preserve her friendship with Nora, sets out to prove Paolo's assertions are true.   Interwoven with Claire's investigation into the true ownership of the tapestry is the story of Beatrice, the daughter of a 16th century Bruges tapestry maker.  Through Beatrice the reader comes to learn of the tapestry's origins, as well as the reasons behind some of the tapestry's unusual design elements. 

The Bruges Tapestry is a well-written and quick-paced mystery.   Usually when I read time slip novels I develop a distinct preference for either the modern or historic narrative.  In the case of this novel, however, I found both narratives to be equally compelling.  Although it did take me awhile to warm up to Claire, by the end of the book I had come to like her as a character.  In fact, I quite liked all of principal characters from the modern-day storyline.   Conversely, with the exception of Beatrice, I didn't find the historic characters to be particularly well drawn, especially the villains, who come across as one-dimensional.   The only major problem I had with this book was the ending of the modern-day tale which, although ultimately satisfying, felt much too rushed.  I would have preferred the ending to have been drawn out and, given the short length of this novel, I think the author could have done so without negatively impacting the conclusion.  Despite my issue with the ending I did enjoy the novel overall and look forward to seeing where P.A. Staes takes Detective DeMaer next. 

Recommended to fans of art-related mysteries and thrillers, as well as to readers who enjoy time slip novels. 

Note: I received a copy of this novel as part of P.A. Staes Virtual Book Tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Bruges Tapestry is now on tour.  Click here to check out the tour schedule.   You can also follow the tour on Twitter: #BrugesTapestryVirtualTour

About the Author

P.A. Staes is the author of The Bruges Tapestry; the first of the Clare DeMaere series of historical mysteries. To lend veracity to The Bruges Tapestry Ms. Staes traveled to Stirling Castle in Scotland, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Cluny Museum and Gobelin Factory in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters to bring alive the rich and romantic world of tapestry.   Ms. Staes lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs.

For more information, please visit P.A. Staes's WEBSITE and BLOG.