Friday, August 23, 2013

Goyer and Yorkey's "Chasing Mona Lisa"

In their sequel to The Swiss Courier, Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey send Swiss agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler on a mission to Paris and back again, aiding the French Resistance in chasing out the Nazis.  Things seem to be going well for the French, but discord between the Gaullists and the communists is mounting, and another threat is on the horizon: knowing that the Nazis are losing the war, Hermann Goering, famous for his collection of plundered art, decides to snatch the priceless painting Mona Lisa, or as the French call it, La Joconde, as a final blow to the French and potential bargaining chip.  With a Louvre curator pinned under his aide's thumb by blackmail and some unscrupulous Nazi agents to do his dirty work, it should be an easy enough job, but thankfully the American OSS (pre-CIA) in Switzerland is onto the plot.  Thus Gabi and Eric, with the help of the French, take off after the painting, creating a thrilling race to reach her first. 

Chasing Mona LisaWhat I noticed in The Swiss Courier is that Goyer and Yorkey seem to write everything in such a straightforward manner that all of a sudden one is blindsided when an unexpected twist appears.  Since the surprises were "oh duh, I should've seen that coming" moments for me, I figured I just wasn't paying enough attention, so I decided I'd be prepared for Chasing Mona Lisa.

Blindsided again.

It makes sense; it's a supremely intelligent move on their part; I just never saw it coming.  Fool me once, it could well be a fluke; fool me twice, that's good writing.  Congratulations, authors!

One character in particular disappointed me; not in how they were fleshed out, but in choices they make.  Extremism rarely turns out well, and it's hard to watch someone so consumed by a cause that relationships become second-place - there are consequences to shoving away those who love you.  Ending the book the way the authors did was a touch dissatisfying to my happily-ever-after expectations, being a little more bittersweet than I expected.  Suffice to say, I was surprised in more ways than one.  It was a good ending, a realistic ending, and a very fitting ending - but it was no perfect fairy tale ending either. 

I liked the novel a lot; the main strike against it is that like the previous novel, there is not much for a major Christian message - just characters who seem to respect God.  The history is fascinating and plot exciting, and it can stand alone without the first book.  4 out 5 stars

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