Thursday, January 25, 2018

Review: The Black Painting by Neil Olson

Title: The Black Painting
Author: Neil Olson
Published: January 2018, Hanover Square Press
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

An old-money East Coast family faces the suspicious death of its patriarch and the unsolved theft of a Goya painting rumored to be cursed

There were four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.

Their grandfather summons them to his mansion at Owl’s Point. None of them has visited the family estate since they were children, when a prized painting disappeared: a self-portrait by Goya, rumored to cause madness or death upon viewing. Afterward, the family split apart amid the accusations and suspicions that followed its theft.

Any hope that their grandfather planned to make amends evaporates when Teresa arrives to find the old man dead, his horrified gaze pinned upon the spot where the painting once hung. As the family gathers and suspicions mount, Teresa hopes to find the reasons behind her grandfather’s death and the painting’s loss. But to do so she must uncover ugly family secrets and confront those who would keep them hidden.

My thoughts: I came across this book while at the Speed Dating For Book Clubs Session at BookExpo last Spring. It just caught my eye and I decided to give it a shot...and I'm so glad I did as I really enjoyed it. I find that I am always intrigued by the art world - not that I know much about it, but I love books that combine a good mystery with the power of art.

This was a good psychological thriller with just a hint of a ghost story and I really liked it. It kept me captivated and engaged from start to finish. I think the fact that it involved a totally dysfunctional family really had a big draw - there's just something so fascinating about a messed up family and getting into all their drama, and when you throw in a suspicious death, you know it's going to be good!

I loved the characters in this book. Each one was more fascinating and flawed than the next. I was unsure who to trust. Not only are they trying to figure out what happened to the grandfather, but there's the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the famous Goya painting - a painting that has been missing for many years and is rumored to be cursed. 

This book is filled with secrets and the twists and turns will keep you on your toes. It's also quite atmospheric - enough to have me reading with the lights on! I really enjoyed this book and learned quite a bit about Goya's Black Paintings, something I knew nothing about before this book. I just love learning a little something in my reading adventures, don't you?



  1. This sounds like the PERFECT book to cuddle up in front of a fire with. I think having the ghost story and mystery, along with the dysfunctional family makes for a great combination of intrigue. I'm glad you gave it a shot, too, because now I know about it! Great review! :)

  2. This one sounds like such a good read. I don't know much about Goya or his paintings but this makes me want to google him. I hope to get my hands on this one soon as your the second person I'e seen raving about it.


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