Big thanks to BloodhoundBooks for inviting me to be involved in Malcolm Hollingdrake’s blog tour! I hope you enjoy my review of ‘Dying Art’, as well as the extract.
Following his recovery from a personal and professional trauma, Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett has been declared medically fit to resume his police duties. He returns to discover a complex case involving the art world.
Soon Bennett unearths a dark side of the industry where greed, ambition and dubious practices thrive and, where there is money to be made, violence and murder are never far away.
Working their way through a maze of galleries, museums and the internet, Bennett’s team struggles to make sense of the evidence.
Can Bennett tell the difference between what is real and what is fake?
What does TWG think?
‘Dying Art’ is the fifth book in the DCI Bennett series and, whilst it had been confirmed that this book could be read as a standalone (my green light for reviewing the book), I completely disagree with that. ‘Dying Art’, in my opinion, cannot be read as a standalone novel. I felt as though I was missing out on a lot of information regarding Cyril Bennett, including both personal and professional relationships. I didn’t have the back story. I didn’t know what had happened in the previous books. If ‘Dying Art’ was meant to be read as a standalone, I should have been able to start the novel without feeling as though I was walking into an already half told story. But I didn’t.
However, the overall premise of Malcolm Hollingdrake’s novel was quite intriguing, as well as being full of a lot of promise. The storyline being centred around real and fake art was such a clever idea. So unique. I enjoyed how the history of said art was severely entwined, requiring a lot of chiseling away to get to the bottom of the investigation. Hats off to the author for keep the investigation consistent, especially as there were so many characters and different viewpoints involved, I was quite impressed at the ease of which they were described. How the author didn’t get confused is beyond me!
Personally, I found the heart of the investigation to be my most favourite part of the book. It’s unique approach made me sit up and take notice, securing my attention for the rest of the investigation. As for the overall novel; I did struggle with the majority of the book for reasons I mentioned above. ‘Dying Art’ as a whole didn’t blow me away, yet ‘Dying Art’ as an investigation itself; did.
The sun hung like a limp, yellow balloon in the early morning Yorkshire
sky; it was neither high nor low but at a height that was blinding both for the few
drivers and even fewer pedestrians alike. It would prove to be far from innocent.
For Nathalie Gray, it was a total nuisance. Each step of this part of her morning
run was becoming unacceptably difficult. The lack of suitable pavement was also
‘Merde!’ she whispered under her breath as her foot dipped into the third
pothole within a hundred yards. She made a mental note to wear sunglasses on
her next run.
She had pounded the same route for four consecutive mornings and this
was the first day of sunshine; she was so ill-prepared. Within the hour she would
be back at the hotel, she would have breakfasted and be heading for the
Conference Centre and the Antiques and Fine Art Fair. It was the penultimate day
of her annual working pilgrimage to Harrogate. The songs of Jack Savoretti
caressed her ears, blocking out the surrounding sounds; there were few, not
surprisingly, considering where she was and the time of day.
The silver-grey Lexus had passed her ten minutes previously. The driver
knew Nathalie’s route, she had run a convenient distance behind her each day,
but today was to be different, very different. Monica parked the car at the side of
the road and waited. There was no tail of grey smoke from the exhaust of the
now stationary vehicle. The driver, ever alert, was sensing her pending and
approaching prey. The hybrid car sat ready to pounce; it would do so electrically
and silently. The driver checked the rear view mirror and yawned. The occasional early morning and late night were tolerable, but four in a row were
proving unacceptable, especially considering the exercise.
She lowered herself into the seat as the runner came into view. Pulling
down the sun visor with her gloved hand, she slipped on a pair of sunglasses.
Within seconds, Nathalie was closing on the car, now a dark silhouette ahead in
her path. The driver saw her turn her head as if checking there were nothing
approaching from behind in preparation for rounding the parked car, unlikely
considering the time of the morning, but it was more instinctive. She quickly
veered to the right and ran around the parked obstacle, unaware of the driver’s
presence. She checked her watch and in spite of the dazzling sun she was still on
It was then, when she was a hundred yards past the parked car, that she
suddenly pulled up abruptly as a startled rabbit sprang from the hedge. It paused
briefly before darting, bob-tailed across her immediate path and vanishing
magically into the far hedge. Nathalie raised her hand, shielding the sun so as to
allow her eyes to focus on the white, swiftly-disappearing tail. A smile came to
her lips. It’s like ‘Watership Down’, she thought, her breathing slowly steadying as
she bent at the waist to take a deep inhale. It would be the last thing that would
pass through her mind as the blinding sun was swiftly snuffed like a candle flame
touched by wet fingers. Her breathing stopped seconds later.