Friday, January 11, 2019

The Alchemist's Illusion - A Guest Post and Review

I'm so happy to welcome Gigi Pandian back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Gigi's latest release is the fourth book in her Accidental Alchemist Mystery series. THE ALCHEMIST'S ILLUSION was released this week.

Gigi Pandian

I’ll share a secret: The Art of Alchemy could have been the title of this Accidental Alchemist novel.  It was one of the ideas floated for the title, because the key imagery that runs through the new mystery is alchemical art.

The Alchemist’s Illusion opens with Zoe Faust outside a Portland art gallery where the mysterious paintings are viewed by candlelight as you would have viewed them in a medieval church, with the flickering lights seeming to bring the artwork to life long before motion pictures could do so. And if you know my books you know I love history, so in addition to the Portland artists in the book, you’ll also meet an alchemist artist at work at Prague Castle under the patronage of Rudolf II, King of Bohemia. 

Besides not sounding immediately like a mystery, potential title The Art of Alchemy was already the title of something else: an amazing art exhibit at the Getty Museum I attended in 2017 when I was researching and writing The Alchemist’s Illusion. I grew up in southern California, and my childhood best friend lives in Los Angeles. So when the Getty began this exhibit, I knew it was the perfect excuse to visit my friend and attend the exhibit and symposium. Here are a few images below, and you can see more at the online exhibit at the Getty Museum website—and read about my fictional interpretation of alchemical art in Zoe and Dorian’s new adventure, The Alchemist’s Illusion. 


The Fourth Accidental Alchemist Mystery

A glimpse at a painting momentarily transports Zoe Faust to the past. Eyes never lie and Zoe knows that the man in the painting is none other than Nicolas Flamel. But how could that be as he'd never sit for a painting? With dawning realization that her mentor is imprisoned, Zoe will look for clues that lead her to look into a local painters death and recent art forgeries in Portland. Dorian, the gargoyle, and her old friend Tobias, will help Zoe discover the truth about the painting, the murder, and the future, as well as the past.

Gigi Pandian seamlessly blends the past and the present as she tells the tale of Zoe Faust. In THE ALCHEMIST'S ILLUSION we not only read about Zoe and the painting that triggers a link to her past, but the very past itself. We get to travel to the late 1500s and see the origins, not only of the painting, but the very mystery itself. I love not only the rich historical detail, but the melding of historical fact with fiction.

I'm always delighted to read more about Dorian and was thrilled with his latest accomplishments and his appropriated crime solving techniques, along with his ability to make me drool with his cooking skills. I wish he could come and stay with me for a bit! But, as in real life, along with the humor, there's also the pathos.

Zoe longs to put down roots and has started to do so in Portland, making a family of friends she's gathered. Indeed this family is the strength that supports everyone as they deal with this current mystery. As her relationship deepens with Max, she broaches the one thing she's been keeping from him. But what will be the ramifications of telling Max the truth about who she really is?

THE ALCHEMIST'S ILLUSION is a captivating mystery that brings the richness of art and history to Portland, Oregon. An exquisitely plotted modern mystery filled with such unique characters make this novel stand out.