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The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte
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The Flanders Panel (original 1990; edition 2004)

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,556None2,342 (3.66)120
Member:letseatgrandpa
Title:The Flanders Panel
Authors:Arturo Perez-Reverte
Info:Harvest Books (2004), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Author) (1990)

20th century (21) adventure (11) art (126) art history (20) chess (145) crime (44) fiction (379) historical (17) historical fiction (57) history (12) literature (23) Madrid (20) murder (26) mystery (312) novel (66) novela (19) own (20) painting (26) Perez-Reverte (23) read (36) Roman (15) Spain (118) Spanish (56) Spanish Fiction (21) Spanish literature (57) suspense (21) thriller (56) to-read (36) translation (24) unread (23)
  1. 10
    The Eight by Katherine Neville (isabelx)
    isabelx: Historical mysteries involving chess.
  2. 10
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Patangel)
  3. 00
    le nom de la rose (Patangel)
  4. 00
    Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Arturo Perez-Reverte has recieved inspiration for his excellent mystery thriller from Hofstadter's Godel Escher Bach, even without some of the chapter introduciton quotes, that much is clear. He uses the bewildering Escherian theme of worlds within a world, Godels incompleteness theorum is alluded to in the monologue of one character, and Bach is discussed in relevance to the mystery too, along with a few miscellaneous paradoxes which are also slipped in, in a similar spirit in which they permeate the more complex non-fictional work. Non-fiction readers who have enjoyed GEB should be amused by the Flanders panel, and I think they should enjoy it even if they do not often indulge themselves in reading fiction. It would be harder to recommend GEB to fans of the Flanders Panel, due to its sheer length, but if you were intrigued by the themes in the story then it should at least be worth finding GEB in a library and dipping into it.… (more)
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» See also 120 mentions

English (41)  Spanish (6)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  jawalter | Nov 18, 2012 |
She busied herself preparing a vodka-on-the-rocks and suddenly smiled in the dark as she stood in front of the Van Huys. She had the odd feeling that if anything bad was going to happen, it would happen to someone else. Nothing bad ever happened to the hero, she remembered as she drank her vodka and felt the ice clink against her teeth. Only other people died, secondary characters, like Alvaro.

While restoring a 15th-century painting called The Game of Chess, restoration expert Julia discovers a hidden inscription which seems to have been painted over by the original artist. She enlists the help of antiquarian César and chess-player Muñoz in tracking down the solution to a 500-year-old murder mystery., but their quest leads them into danger, as they soon realise that someone else is interested in the painting and in playing the game to its conclusion. All the squares, my dear, are grey, tinged by the awareness of Evil that we all acquire with experience, an awareness of how sterile and often abjectly unjust what we call Good can turn out to be.

They discover unexpected connections between the characters in the painting, their reflections in the painted mirror, the game they are playing, the history of the real people who were depicted in the painting, and the lives of the modern-day people investigating the riddle posed by the painting, and the book is full of references to mirrors and art and how both can give the viewer a different perspective on a scene.

Unfortunately I did not find any of the main characters sympathetic at all and was not really concerned whether any of them would survive to the end of the story. Julia was cold and vain, always admiring herself in a Venetian mirror that she had been told made her look like a Renaissance beauty, and although I think the reader is meant to like César more than Menchu, they are quite similar characters, one a homosexual male and and other a heterosexual female but both are arch, artistic, middle-aged and serial seducers of beautiful young men. I am also not keen on the way that descriptions of the characters are constantly repeated throughout the book, with Muñoz's frayed collar being mentioned rather more than was necessary to make it clear that he didn't really fit into Julia's world. But as the story is seen from Julia's point of view, the constant harping on about frayed collars and too short skirts may be there to show how judgmental and dismissive Julia is about her friends and acquaintances.

Although I am not a chess-player myself (having really bad spatial perception which prevents me from holding a picture of the board in my mind and moving the pieces mentally), and I didn't warm to the main characters, the mystery kept me interested throughout. ( )
  isabelx | Aug 10, 2012 |
Don't even bother with this book. It goes nowhere fast. A long line of gross and pathetic characters fill the pages with boring details that lead to basically nothing. Intriguing idea, poorly executed. ( )
  tippygirl | Aug 5, 2012 |
This is my first Pérez-Reverte book. I can't make up my mind whether I like him/would recommend him or not.The concept of the book ==> a game of chess paralleling the actions of the book's characters is quite interesting. The way the story evolves is well thought out and will keep you interested.My problem was with the writing itself. It did not quite catch me: maybe too verbose or maybe the translation just didn't capture the writers intent. ( )
  EctopicBrain | Jul 31, 2012 |
Picked it up at the library, meant as a divertimento on a hot summer-night. I must have outgrown this genre recently, because it didn't sweep me off my feet at all.
I liked the beginning in which the main character decribes the 15th century painting of a Flemish Primitive in detail. It reminded me of the book I read a while ago (see Peter Schmidt. Het Lam Gods) about the famous Flemish painting"Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghent_Altarpiece) in which the author analyses the famous painting into the finest detail and unravels the symbolic significance of this medieval painting.

But then it collapsed for me: the main character and the one who was supposed to do the restoration of the painting was a chain smoker who SMOKED and drank coffee while sitting or standing in front of the 500 year old painting, never seemed to have heard of conservation-conditions (temperature, moist, light,...) apart from a burglar-alarm which was merely there for financial reasons. My historian heart was bleeding...
The other characters were so cliché without even having to play their part to the full: you had the bad guy because his teeth were too white and his skin too dark, the friend who didn't want to get older and tried to seduce men, the typical homosexual snob who surrounded himself by beauty, the autistic chess-player who didn't want to win, etc.
And please, please, please, would anyone explain to me why the main character was such a compulsive smoker and coffee-drinker? Till the end I hoped something would come up that might have given this a reason, but it turned out is was just a gimmick.
I didn't much like the book as I thought the story would have benefited a lot from a better cast of characters and a lott less clichés and loose ends. A pity really as the story was okay (although I saw where it was headed to after having read about 50 pages) and had potential. But hey, let's not be too negative, as a summer-read it's okay. ( )
1 vote JustJoey4 | Jun 13, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pérez-Reverte, ArturoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Costa, Margaret JullTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kallio, KatjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quijano, Jean-PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Julio and Rosa, Devils's advocates
And for Cristiane Sánchez Azevedo
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A sealed envelope is an enigma containing further enigmas.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156029588, Paperback)

Julia, a young Madrid art restorer, is pulled into a shadowy world of metaphor when she discovers a long-covered inscription on a Flemish painting: Who killed the knight? Art, chess and murder are intertwined in this elegant, seductive mystery in the manner of The Name of the Rose.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When Julia is cleaning a 15th century Flemish painting, in a corner she finds the words: "Who killed the knight?" As she investigates the mystery, she becomes mixed up with several late 20th century unscrupulous characters.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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