Synopsis: London, 1732. William Hogarth is called to a murder scene. A woman lies dead, her unborn child ripped from her body. It is a warning. Hogarth painted the future king leaving her bed. He must destroy the painting to survive. But her killers made one mistake. They left the Prince’s son alive. Centuries later, one man holds proof of this line of succession and keeps watchful eye on the Prince’s heir. The legacy is a terrible burden, but also an incredible opportunity. During a flight in a private jet, when a fellow passenger speaks of having gained possession of proof of this, the Royal Family’s darkest secret, everything changes. Within hours of the flight, three of the seven passengers have silenced. Who killed them? Why? To keep the secret or to expose it? Where is the proof?
After thoroughly enjoying Alex Connor’s The Rembrandt Secret in March of last year, I felt a sense of eager anticipation when turning over the first page to her latest offering, Legacy of Blood. I definitely wasnt disappointed. Once more Connor delves deep into the murky, murderous depths of the art world, this time emerging with a sensational secret which threatens the very monarchy itself.
A fateful journey on a private jet: the mad whisperings of an art dealer confused and in a mind-state far from calm. One sudden foolish mistake: with dreadful and potentially devastating consequences. The confirmation of a William Hogarth painting believed to be lost – but who heard Bernie Freeland splutter out his secret? Three art dealers, ruthless and manipulating in a world that takes no prisoners; three call girls who have information at their fingertips, and a madam that has contacts in high places. The secret is huge, and people are prepared to do unspeakable things to have the painting for their own. The Russians, the Chinese, and those in the English hierarchy that know the painting must remain safe at all costs.
What impressed me the most about Legacy of Blood was the delightful way in which the author weaves a complex, intricate web of characters; each with their own stories and secrets, each with their own motives, but whose paths, and in some cases pasts, are closely interwoven. As a result, the reader is pulled cleverly from side to side, thoughts racing in an attempt to form an opinion of each of the characters involved, the list possible culprits endless. It seems impossible to know who to trust and who to be wary of, as Connor keeps us guessing; we flick through the pages, captured like a fly to a spider’s web as we struggle to penetrate a world that holds many secrets, to find our answers. On she weaves, as the plot twists and turns right to the very last page.
In a sense, the dénouement is one which has multiple layers; the answers never so simple in the elusive and secretive art world. It is unclear who the tale will unravel, because each character has separate ideas about the painting and its importance. Someone is committing murders, ruthless and gruesome; another, dying himself of a terrible illness, knows he must keep the painting safe to insure the future of his family when he is gone. A recently disgraced man, fallen from the art world, takes up an investigation more dangerous than he realises; dreaming of the painting he believes will restore his prominence in the art world once again. A mother weeps as her son lies dying in a coma, the fateful overdose coming just hours after stepping off Bernie Freeland’s private jet.
Legacy of Blood is a story of greed, ruthlessness, murder and deceit. In the race to own the painting that causes so much scheming and lies, who will emerge victorious? Will good prevail over those who intend evil, and will a secret that has remained buried for centuries emerge to befall the government itself? Read Alex Connor’s rip-roaring, action-packed tale that will make your jaw drop and your fingers itch with excitement as you turn the pages.