Just shortly before the Spanish Civil War breaks out, the English art expert Anthony Whitelands travels to Madrid for a delicate deal: he is to secretly assess the value of a nobleman’s collection which the duque intends to sell. On his first visit he gets to know the leader of the Falange party and stumbles into the mess the country is in. Caught between his own career interests, the rising love for the duque’s daughter, Spanish and English authorities and rebellious groups, Anthony’s life quickly is at stake and he does not know anymore whom to trust and who to fear.
A very entertaining story which cleverly combines the world of art with wonderful descriptions and explanations with the historic events in Spain in the 1930s and a complicated love affair. What I appreciated most were the passages about Spanish art, the work of Velazquez and the details on how to detect if a piece of art is fake or original. The plot turns more and more complicated the further you read and thus clearly outlines how complex the situation was and which different forced were at work and mixed up in the triggering of the Civil War.
All in all, a demanding combination of different aspects, providing insight into Spanish art and history while narrating a suspenseful story.