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Reviewed by Keith Julius for Readers' Favorite
A valuable painting stolen from a gallery nearly thirty years ago. A young woman, fiercely independent and not afraid to speak her mind, searching for love and coming to grips with a relationship gone bad. A millionaire collector, caught in a trap of his own devising with seemingly no way out. Isabella's Painting: A Notorious Art Heist Mystery by Ellen Butler has all this and more. The story follows Karina Cardinal, a lobbyist in Washington D.C., and is told primarily from her point of view. When she accompanies her boyfriend, Patrick Dunne, to a party at his parents' house, Karina stumbles upon a secret hidden by his father, Martin. Curiosity gets the better of her and, much to her regret, she investigates the secret and manages to insinuate herself into what becomes a life-threatening struggle.
Ellen Butler does a masterful job with Isabella's Painting, presenting a truly believable heroine who not only has spunk and daring, but also has her share of human frailties. The novel moves at a rapid pace, not so much because of the action within the story, but rather due to the mesmerizing way the author presents details and snippets of information to keep the reader wondering just what's going to happen next. Surprises abound, to the point where you're never quite sure what to expect. The people are realistic, suffering believable consequences due to their actions, and knowing the story is based on an actual art theft from 1990 makes things seem that much more real. An enjoyable read from start to finish and highly recommended.