Saturday, 31 March 2018

RESTITUTION by Rose Edmunds @RoseEdmunds

4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member, but I bought it anyway!  My review of Book 2, Exposure, here.

Genre: Thriller/financial.

In this third book in the Crazy Amy series, Amy travels to Prague to help 84 year old George Smithies recover a Picasso painting last seen in 1939, and help him find his way through the maze of Czech art restitution law.  The situation is a complex one, as there is mystery surrounding family ties, and right of ownership is not straightforward.  Amy and George meet up with Beresford, an art historian to whom Amy takes an immediate dislike, and her old 'frenemy', Mel.  It soon transpires that Amy and George are not the only ones interested in the painting, which puts Amy in great danger.

The amount of research that has gone into this book is evident, with much about the history and culture of the Czech Republic that I found most interesting; I like novels that teach me about other countries.

Amy is oddly likable, even though she shouldn't be; she's snobbish and judgemental with a hell of a chip on her shoulder (and I couldn't forgive her for dragging poor, reluctant George out for a walk on their first night in freezing cold Prague!), but there's something about the way she's so honest about herself that makes her endearing.  Her emotional dilemmas, even just the seemingly trivial ones like whether or not she ought to sleep with a man who attracts her and how to get rid of the excess five pounds around her middle, make her seem very real.  

...though maybe not always so self-aware: ' "..Amy, did anyone ever suggest you might have a problem with alcohol?"  "Yes", I snapped, "the idiots at the Priory".'    I love that!  Her bitchy-aside-a-minute relationship with chavvy gold digger Mel is beautifully illustrated in its oneupmanship; I think observation about people's motivations and insecurities is a real strength of this author, and I'd love to see more of it in future books. 

Still battling through the difficulties caused by her psychological problems, Amy makes some candid statements: 'Everyone pretends there's no stigma against mental health issues, like everyone pretends there's no sexism or racism.  But it's still bubbling away beneath the surface and ... people will find a cogent, lawful reason for denying me a job ... That's the way it is'

I liked that this novel was less overtly fast-paced than the previous one, with more 'downtime'.  It's cleverly structured, and I'm sure it will be appreciated by readers who like to immerse themselves in thrillers with complicated plots, and anyone with an interest in said plot's subject matter, ie, the restitution of valuable works of art.

'We'll be there you bitcoin, came the {text message} reply, bitcoin presumably being the predictive text substitute for bitch'. πŸ˜…πŸ˜†