Last updated on January 23rd, 2020 at 03:43 pm
If you like novels that involve chess, then you can't miss The Flanders Panel, by Arturo Perez-Reverte.
When a young art conservator begins work on Pieter Van Huys' The Game of Chess, she uncovers an inscription hidden for nearly five centuries: Quis necavit equitem, or Who killed the knight?
A game of chess ensues both literally and metaphorically as the conservator tries to solve the historical riddle posed by the painting and those with less humanist interests make shady plays for the priceless van Huys.
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What's startling about this novel is not so much the chess playing (though it's good here, too) as it is Perez-Reverte's description of the painting. I did a little bit of research to see if Huys (Flemish, 1520-1584) in fact painted such a work as The Game of Chess. I don't think he did – but you'd never guess it from the fine visual detail found in this book.
Capably translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa, The Flanders Panel is available from Harvest. Again, well worth the investment.
Elizabeth Frengel is a curator of rare books at The University of Chicago Library Book Arts and History