Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Forgotten Painting - another cheap sugary treat for the fans of Dan Brown

Every once in a while I will pick up a free Kindle book that's offered as part of a promotion. I firmly believe in paying for the author's work, so a part of me feels guilty when I cannot bring myself to write a gushing stellar review of a book I got for free. Reading The Forgotten Painting was another one of my attempts to give Dan Brown and his countless spinoffs a chance. Once again, I walked away with the feeling "Nah, M.J., this is NOT your genre." But hey, just because I am not a fan of Dan Brown, it doesn't mean that I should knock the book altogether. There are a few minor issues with the presentation that are unrelated to the plot or the style. The title is very unimaginative, and the cover suggests that the focal figure in the novella is not a painter but rather a musician. Anyway, don't mean to be nit-picky.

When celebrated author Jack Rogan stumbles upon a hidden diary, he can’t resist investigating. Honouring the last wish of a dying friend, he is irresistibly drawn into a web of intriguing clues, hinting at a long forgotten treasure.

Joining forces with Cecilia Crawford, a glamorous New York journalist, and Tristan, a remarkable boy with psychic powers, Jack soon finds himself on a precarious journey of discovery, exposing dark secrets from a distant, violent time, when life was cheap and cruelty ruled without mercy.

Meanwhile, Emil Fuchs, an enigmatic Swiss banker with a murky past, has an agenda of his own. Ruthless, and determined to defend his reputation at all cost, he threatens to expose a fraud that could destroy everything.
Will Rogan succeed? Can he find the forgotten treasure he has been searching for, or will it be lost forever, depriving the world of a masterpiece that belongs to all mankind?

My thoughts:
I am not going to comment on the plot. The summary says it all. I am going to comment on that unmistakably Dan-Brownesque style that readers either love or hate. Farago adopts every Brownesque gimmick and takes it to the extreme. Even if you don't have ADHD, you will feel like you. The narrative jumps across the globe, across the decades. You go from Nazi occupied Poland to New York to Australia. It's very easy to lose track of who is related to whom. And this is my "favorite" Dan Brown offense: the characters are talking heads with minimal psychological development and almost non-existent character arcs. They exist solely to open their mouths at the right time to feed the reader bits and pieces of background esoterica. Incidentally, they are all extremely accomplished, erudite and talented. Painters, musicians, art critics. Not a single plumber or bartender in the house. You just can't bring yourself to care to them, because you do not see their humanity behind all their accolades. But if you do not read novels for character development, then this one is for you. Art, Nazis, musicians, decade-hopping, secret societies and you have another metastatic Dan Brown knock-off. What's not to love? 

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