Thomas Lynch was once a brilliant young art historian. Now he is a disgraced, middle-aged art historian, overly fond of the bottle and of his fresh young students. But everything will change now that he's on the trail of a lost masterpiece, a legendary Madonna by the Italian master Giovanni Bellini.
Insinuating himself into the crumbling English manor house where the painting could be concealed, Lynch discovers that his search had just begun and he himself may be the pawn in a more elaborate game. A Victorian diary that draws Robert Browning into the complicated provenance might provide the key—if only Lynch can manage to beat his hosts in the search. Interlaced with complex clues and hidden jokes, "this sophisticated, parodic puzzle" (Booklist) reels from the lush English countryside to the sternly lovely hill towns of the Veneto, from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first.