Death and Dishonor. Iaian Pears.

Death and Dishonor.
Iaian Pears.
Scribner’s: 1996.

Jonathan and Flavia Argyll are the husband and wife team of this mystery author, who is an art history professor. As we saw with Elizabeth Peters, the novel allows the author to show off (rather than share) his or her specialized knowledge. Fortunately, Pears is not nearly as obnoxious as Peters in this regard. I rather enjoyed the basic plot of the book, because although there were two murders, the mystery to be solved is an art theft, not a murder. However, there is a major stretch of imagination to be made (a monestary has proof that Constantine spent his last days there and brought a holy relic with him), and the crime is too easily solved. On the other hand, one character, who is a retired art thief and now a grandmother, is pretty amusing.

The author has the opportunity to develop some interesting points — do supernatural powers of holy icons dissipate if no one believes in them? why is the mass public satisfied with religion, yet not the clergy? etc., but the author opts for a short, mostly-brainless, easy-to-read book instead.