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The Art Restorer by Julian Sanchez

Enrique Alonso, a successful novelist, was in the coastal city of San Sebastian after three years to attend the grand opening of the revamped San Telmo museum which houses the immense mural paintings of the renowned Spanish painter Jose Maria Sert. Days after, a body washes up the shore.

It was Craig Buckner, a retired art restorer with expertise on Sert and was doing a paper on his paintings as well as being a close friend to Enrique’s ex-wife, Bety who presently works at the museum. Bety asks Enrique’s assistance to research the mysterious death of her friend and if his untimely demise was spurred by Craig’s great knowledge about Sert.

Before long, Bety and Enrique were on a trail of clues retracing the footsteps of Buckner’s last few days and following the history of Sert’s life in Paris during the Second World War among others. Amidst the measured pursuit, both were forced to confront their own repressed turmoil and painful past in each other’s presence.

The Art Restorer is written like a novel within a novel. The layered plot create such an interesting platform of ideas, making the story much more than if it was simply presented as a historical mystery, romance and art rolled into one. 

It also gave me a good setting to learn more about Sert’s life and works. I do admit (just as the author also noted) that he was barely known to me unlike his other colleagues. Sert’s magnetism dominates the book that it even outshines the figure that the book title refers to.

The emotional journey was explored to its fullest possible potential, pushing its course without quartering them. Julian Sanchez did not hesitate to relish the gray areas of human sentiments which made a lot of it more real and relatable to me; that inwardly some feelings aren't exactly black and white.
I liked that though it poses an indefinite note on the book’s romantic aspect giving me a window of doubt as to whom will Enrique end up with, that is if he even ends up with anyone. Enrique’s own emotional journey was woven in such a way that I wouldn't mind at all if the author chooses for him to be alone. I gradually felt that either way, it’d still work and wouldn't make the story less impressive.

The characters are very human-like and there was nothing senseless or empty about them. I was quite engaged to most and was left both feeling admiring and regretful. Their beings were fleshed out both in good and bad light, and they meander within the novel in graceful dignity and earnestness.

Being a sequel to The Antiquarian, readers who loved this genre will be surely intrigued of Sert and anticipate what happens between Enrique and Bety. This is my first book read of Julian Sanchez and by the time I finished, he got me sold to the charms of this quaint little city nestled by the bay. It was almost natural for me to end up falling in love with San Sebastian. 


In this long-awaited sequel to The Antiquarian, the discovery of an enigma concealed in the paintings of the Spanish artist Sert proves the restoration of the past to be a fascinating but deadly business

Enrique Alonso travels from his new home in Manhattan to San Sebastián, Spain, to attend the reopening of the San Telmo museum, where his ex-wife, Bety, works in public relations. There he meets American Craig Bruckner, a retired art restorer studying the museum’s collection of works by Sert—a contemporary of Picasso and Dalí who worked for the most famous billionaires of his time and whose mural American Progress graces the walls of Rockefeller Center. When Bruckner is found drowned in La Concha bay, Bety suspects foul play and Enrique agrees to help her look into the man’s death. Their investigation reveals a mystery connected with Sert’s checkered past, which provides fertile ground for the new thriller Enrique is writing, and the plot develops in parallel to his research.

Enrique and Bety’s reconstruction of the artist’s clandestine activities during World War II leads them to Paris, Barcelona, and New York, and in the process forces them to face their own past. But they are not the only ones interested in Sert’s work, and it appears there is more to his paintings than meets the eye.

Title: The Art Restorer (Enrique Alonso #2)
Author: Julian Sanchez
Genre: Mystery, Art, Spanish Literature
Published: July 2014
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ (4 cups - Thoroughly written with emotionally laden characters you'll come to love.)


  1. Kisses from san sebastian.

    I'm very happy for your words.


  2. Thank you very much for visiting! I really enjoyed the book.


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