IAIN PEARS – The Last Judgment. Jonathan Argyll #4. Scribner, hardcover, 1996. Berkley, paperback, 1999.

   I’ve only read one other in this series, and my vague memory of it was that it was a quite decent read, if nothing major.

   Expatriate British art dealer Jonathan Argyll, now living in Rome, is having a rough season of it. While in Paris buying some sketches for a museum, he works out a deal with a Parisian dealer — if the dealer will see that the sketches are shipped to America, Argyll will deliver one of the dealer’s paintings to a buyer in Rome.

   Nothing could be simpler, right?

   Wrong. First someone tries to steal the painting in the train station, and then a murder is connected with it. Then there’s another, and Argyll’s lover, Flavia di Stefano of Rome’s Art Squad, gets involved The Parisian police are strangely obfuscatory, so Argyll and de Stefano follow the trail back to Paris and secrets buried since World War II and into some serious danger.

   I enjoy this series. I like the art background (though in one sense there isn’t much of it in this one), I like the European setting,  and I like the  characters. These aren’t major books by any means, probably on a par with and similar to Aaron Elkins’ Chris Norgren series, but they are enjoyable. In these days of bloated books about serial killers and women in peril, I value my minor pleasures more and more.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #25, May 1996.

      The Jonathan Argyll series —

1. The Raphael Affair (1990)
2. The Titian Committee (1991)
3. The Bernini Bust (1992)
4. The Last Judgement (1993)
5. Giotto’s Hand (1994)
6. Death and Restoration (1996)
7. The Immaculate Deception (2000)