I have been raving about many different books lately, I know. However, after picking up The Bruges Tapestry by P.A. Staes for a quick read over several blocks of time, I was immediately immersed, which is saying something because that doesn’t happen often for me at the beginning of the book (even if I end up loving it). I didn’t want to have to put it down. This book is top-notch, in my opinion, and it’s going to the top of my best-loved historical fiction pile!
I enjoyed the entire experience of the novel. I loved the cover photography and design, as well as the font work inside the small cut pages which helped to set each period of time. The book flowed seamlessly between early 1500s Belgium and present day California, with completely well-developed and contrasting characters. Both engaging and dramatic, then witty and strong, this book really kept me turning pages.
The protagonist in the present day, Claire DeMaer, is a detective with the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. A religious cynic, she’s a smart, sarcastic, independent woman who gets on the trail of a 500-year-old mystery pertaining to a Flemish tapestry. Juxtaposing, Staes gives us glimpses back in time to Beatrice, the daughter of the original weaver. That insight gives us knowledge into a secretive Roman Catholic Church and what they’ve hidden for so long.
This makes it not only a historical read, but a suspenseful mystery that I think is even better than anything Brad Meltzer decodes or Dan Brown can pen. I like Staes’ strong female lead, her gentle sub-protagonist, and her plot process.
I was amazed by the writing style of Staes so much; it was both cemented in perfect precision, but with a detail and description that read like poetry. Its flow was silky smooth and I felt very connected to the work. I would very highly recommend this book not only to lovers of historical fiction, but also those who like suspenseful thrillers, religious and/or art conspiracies, and good original mysteries.
I am now a huge fan of P.A. Staes and am looking forward to more in this series! The author states the The Bruges Tapestry is the first in the series of art theft detective Claire DeMaer.
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The Bruges Tapestry, Synopsis~
Following a 500-year-old mystery concerning a Flemish tapestry is routine work for Detective Claire DeMaer, since she’s employed by the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. But, unlike past cases, this one involves arresting Paolo Campezzi, lover to her best friend Nora. Mr. Campezzi is a distant descendant of a Florentine Duke, who commissioned the tapestry in 1520 in Bruges, Belgium.
Claire finds that she must explore the true provenance of the tapestry, free Mr. Campezzi in order to re-establish her friendship with Nora and depend on the expertise of a textile expert she doesn’t know. All this must occur in 72 hours, before the Vatican takes the tapestry back.
But Claire isn’t the only one with the Vatican looking over her shoulder. Claire’s story intertwines with a 1520 diary by Beatrice van Hecke, the tapestry-weaver’s daughter. Only Claire can discover the secret that is woven in time.
P.A. Staes, Biography~
P.A. Staes is the author of The Bruges Tapestry; the first of the Clare DeMaer series of historical mysteries. To lend veracity to The Bruges Tapestry Ms. Staes traveled to Stirling Castle in Scotland, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Cluny Museum and Gobelin Factory in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters to bring alive the rich and romantic world of tapestry. Ms. Staes lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs.
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