The Black Painting
by Neil Olson
Review by Mel Jacob
Hanover Square Press Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781335953810
Date: 01 January 2018 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A family tragedy leaves two children impaired and continues to haunt them as adults. Then their elderly grandfather dies, and his death brings the past alive, threatening even more death and destruction to come.
Teresa Marias discovered her dead grandfather when she returned in answer to his demand for all four of grandchildren to visit at the same time. The look of horror on his face shocked her. The police believe he died of a heart attack, yet Teresa wonders if someone helped his death along.
To say the family was strange and dysfunction would be an understatement. Of the four cousins, Audrey, the promiscuous beauty, grew up as a daredevil always into mischief. Her handsome brother Kenny is a lawyer and man-about-town. Cousin Jamie and Teresa had played together as children and learned all the secret places in their grandfather's house and grounds. Jamie now studies to be a doctor.
Grandfather had been an art collector and had bought one of Goya's Black Paintings that he hung behind his desk. Legend had it that it would kill anyone who looked at it because it was so horrifying. Teresa's father Ramon had loved Goya's work and had raised Teresa to know and understand all Goya's paintings. He died years ago falling off a bridge in South America. Whispers of his possible suicide and mental illness still haunt Teresa.
Some years earlier, the Goya painting was stolen and never found. A handyman was imprisoned for the theft. Now that man may be a suspect in Teresa's grandfather's death.
To solve the various family mysteries, Teresa must be willing to review the past and sort through the protective illusions she has accepted for so long. Others want the painful past to stay unexamined. Family secrets influence all the cousins.
Olson has used Goya's Black Paintings as the possible cause of death and the twisting of young children's characters. He also explores the nature of mental aberration in impressionable children. His other novel, The Icon, also involved art.