Thomas Lynch was once a brilliant young art historian. Now he is a disgraced, middle-aged art historian, overly fond of the bottle and of his fresh young students. But everything will change now that he's on the trail of a lost masterpiece, a legendary Madonna by the Italian master Giovanni Bellini. Insinuating himself into the crumbling English manor house where the painting may be concealed, Lynch attempts to gull the eccentric and perversely beautiful women who live there - though he himself seems to be the pawn in this elaborate game. A Victorian diary that draws Robert Browning into the painting's complicated provenance might provide the key - if only Lynch can manage to beat his hosts in the search. In the end, it will be Lynch's own vulnerable heart that betrays the betrayer. Interlaced with complex clues and hidden jokes, The Bellini Madonna reels from the lush English countryside to the sternly lovely hill towns of the Veneto, from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first. It is a spectacularly original debut.
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