This is the fourth book by John Paul Davis that I have read, the previous ones being ‘The Templar Agenda’, ‘The Larmenius Inheritance’ and ‘The Plantagenet Vendetta’. I am pleased to say that it lives up to the standard of the previous books, and, like them, I will be giving it 5 stars on the Amazon and Goodreads rating systems.
The book is concerned with the historical disappearance of some of the crown jewels, in particular the diadem of St Edward, which was last seen when King Charles I was removed from the English throne in the Civil War. It had always been assumed that these jewels were lost (or in the case of gold, melted down). However, when a manuscript is found which points to their possible location, it is bought anonymously at an auction in London by an aristocratic art dealer from Angers, France, who then sets out to recover the jewels from clues contained in the manuscript. He is a descendent of the Plantagenet Dynasty, and regards the jewels as property of his ancestors, which must be recovered.
The manuscript points to important information being contained in a portrait of Arthur Heselrige, who was an ally of Oliver Cromwell, on display in the National Portrait Gallery. It turns out that this portrait was actually painted over a portrait of Cromwell, which contains information about the location of the jewels. This painting is stolen by thieves acting on behalf of the French art dealer, along with a new acquisition by van Dyck, which is about to be unveiled in a few days.
The book then describes how the art thieves, pursued by the National Portrait Gallery Director and her staff (who want to recover the paintings), try to use the clues in the painting to find the jewels. This involves visiting major battle sites from the Civil War, as well as, in the end, the church where Cromwell’s wife was buried. At stake is the recovery of the paintings, particularly the van Dyck, and attempting to prevent the theft of the jewels if they are in fact found. The conclusion is exciting, with an extra twist at the very end.
The storyline moves at a fast pace, and as with previous books by this author, I found it hard to put down. I recommend it!