Book Review: The Gauguin Connection

Murdered artists. Masterful forgeries. Art crime at its worst. As an insurance investigator and world renowned expert in nonverbal communication, Dr Genevieve Lenard faces the daily challenge of living a successful, independent life. Particularly because she has to deal with her high functioning Autism. Nothing – not her studies, her high IQ or her astounding analytical skills – prepared her for the changes about to take place in her life. It started as a favour to help her boss’ acerbic friend look into the murder of a young artist, but soon it proves to be far more complex. Forced out of her predictable routines, safe environment and limited social interaction, Genevieve is thrown into exploring the meaning of friendship, expanding her social definitions, and for the first time in her life be part of a team in a race to stop more artists from being murdered.

Despite the tongue twisting artist’s name, this was one of the more interesting reads I’ve had in a while.  It is a complete departure from my normal genre, and so I found myself intrigued on many different levels.

The pace was wonderfully fast, with enough kinks and twists to leave you guessing.  Several times I thought the mystery had been solved, and was about to be explained, only to have a new layer unearthed, and a new adventure to be started.

This is written in first person, but there is a depth of knowledge, and environmental descriptions to take you from the character’s mind out into the world.  Estelle Ryan has a wonderful knack for bringing the outside into the mind of the character, while avoiding the common pitfalls of having the character jump to incorrect conclusions all the time.  (Though, to be honest, I don’t think Genevieve wold be able to jump to anything remotely like a conclusion without first verifying it five ways to Sunday!)

Having known a few high functioning Autistic individuals, I loved reading the story, as it broadened my understanding about just what they must process on a daily basis.  There are a few references to specific muscles that were a bit jarring at first, but once I got used to the names being thrown in, flowed with the narrative quite well, and fit the character beautifully.

The plot itself is an interesting weave of mystery, personal growth and adaptation to change, supporting cast who either cause change or try to help limit the effects of unwanted change, and murder.  These are all tightly woven together into the tapestry of the story.  Even if you have a very limited knowledge of just what artwork is under discussion in the story, that will not limit your enjoyment of this tale.

The character development started quickly, and raced up a very steep curve, without an actual plateau anywhere in sight.  Ms. Ryan depicts the changes that Genevieve faces, and how she reacts to them with a vivid palette of words, and though the reactions may seem a bit extreme they are all perfectly acceptable.  Even for those without a mental disturbance to complicate the matter.

Overall, while I may have tried to avoid reading something new, I am glad that a friend nagged me into starting the book.  A solid 5 out of 5 stars.  This is one of those, when you start reading, you had better be sure to have an open schedule so you can go on reading.  This is the first of the series, and will likely have you turning pages and changing books until you slam into the last one and burst through into reality once more.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Gauguin Connection

    1. Welcome. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m working through the sixth in the series, and I think seven just came out. So, I’ll have a couple more here before too long to go with this group.

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