Cover image for Book Club kit : The Flanders panel
Book Club kit : The Flanders panel
1st Harvest ed.
Publication Information:
Orlando, Fla. : Harcourt, 2004, ©1994.
Physical Description:
10 bks. (294 pages) ; 21 cm + 1 discussion guide
General Note:
"A Harvest book."

Translation of: La tabla de Flandes.
When Julia is cleaning a 15th century Flemish painting, in a corner she finds the words: "Who killed the knight?" As she investigates the mystery, she becomes mixed up with several late 20th century unscrupulous characters.
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A fifteenth-century painting by a Flemish master is about to be auctioned when Julia, a young art restorer, discovers a peculiar inscription hidden in a corner: Who killed the knight? In the painting, the Duke of Flanders and his knight are locked in a game of chess, and a dark lady lurks mysteriously in the background. Julia is determined to solve the five-hundred-year-old murder, but as she begins to look for clues, several of her friends in the art world are brutally murdered in quick succession. Messages left with the bodies suggest a crucial connection between the chess game in the painting, the knight's murder, the sordid underside of the contemporary art world, and the latest deaths. Just when all of the players in the mystery seem to be pawns themselves, events race toward a shocking conclusion. A thriller like no other, The Flanders Panel presents a tantalizing puzzle for any connoisseur of mystery, chess, art, and history.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

When an art restorer sets out to solve the riddle of a 15th-century masterpiece in this uneven but intriguing, multilayered thriller, she finds that one murder begets another, down through five centuries. Young, beautiful art expert Julia works in Madrid for the Prado as well as for various local galleries and auctioneers. Her painstaking cleaning of The Game of Chess , by Flemish master Pieter Van Huys, uncovers a Latin inscription--painted over by the artist--with the question ``Who killed the knight?'' Julia explores this mystery with the aid of Cesar, a middle-aged, homosexual antiques dealer who has become something of a surrogate father figure for her; Alvaro, her art professor ex-lover; and Munoz, a mildly antisocial chess master. When Alvaro dies--possibly murdered--Van Huys's riddle becomes relevant not only to the figures and chess pieces represented in his painting but also to Julia and her friends in this rather seamy art community. The author, a TV journalist in Spain, makes interesting use of the chessboard as metaphor for various human interactions, and his characters' sleuthy analysis of the painting's symbols and the details of its frozen chess game is clever and quite suspenseful. But the characters themselves are carelessly drawn cartoons--perhaps distorted in translation--and prone to rather sophomoric pronouncements on aesthetic and philosophical issues. And--highbrow pretensions aside--the whodunit aspect of the narrative is resolved unconvincingly, with disappointing conventionality. Film rights to Filmania. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

For mystery fans who yearn for literate, intelligent, sophisticated whodunits, Spanish author Perez-Reverte's highly acclaimed story fills the bill perfectly. Already a best-seller in Spain and France and destined to become a film in 1994, the novel, set in Madrid, tells the story of Julia, a young, beautiful art-restoration expert, and the chain of sinister events set off when she discovers a strange inscription hidden beneath layers of paint and varnish on a fifteenth-century Flemish painting. The painting depicts a chess game between the duke of Flanders and his knight, Roger de Arras. In her quest to solve the mystery behind the hidden inscription, Julia becomes entangled in a contemporary puzzle that involves a bizarre chess game (whose action is mirrored in the painting), art theft, murder, and deception. An inventive plot, gripping suspense, fascinatingly complex characters, and innovative incorporation of art, literature, and music will enthrall readers looking for something a little different. ~--Emily Melton

Library Journal Review

``Who killed the knight?'' This single phrase, inscribed in Latin on a 15th-century Flemish panel depicting a game of chess, has been hidden for centuries beneath a layer of paint. Now beautiful, indepedent Julia, who restores art for a living, has discovered the inscription. She lets only a few people in on the secret: Menchu, her friend and the dealer who expects to make a bundle on the painting; the elegant César, her protector since childhood; and Alvaro, her former lover and an art history expert. Soon after Julia meets with Alvaro, he is found dead, and a peculiar game begins. The murderer circles Julia, signaling every lethal move with clues taken from the chess game depicted in the panel, and Julia and César must enlist the aid of a chess genius to figure out what their moves should be. This intelligent mystery, blending art historical insight with the intellectual pleasures of chess, moves at a good pace and comes up with a satisfying twist at the end. For The Name of the Rose crowd, though this book is not as rigorous; readers not looking for intellectual challenge will enjoy the suspense and deft characterization.-Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

I The Secrets of Meister Van Huysp. 1
II Lucinda, Octavio, Scaramouchep. 31
III A Chess Problemp. 49
IV The Third Playerp. 68
V The Mystery of the Black Ladyp. 87
VI Of Chessboards and Mirrorsp. 103
VII Who Killed the Knight?p. 126
VIII The Fourth Playerp. 136
IX The Moat at the East Gatep. 152
X The Blue Carp. 177
XI Analytical Approachesp. 196
XII Queen, Knight, Bishopp. 214
XIII The Seventh Sealp. 237
XIV Drawing-room Conversationp. 248
XV Queen Endingp. 266