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The Flanders Panel

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  18,275 ratings  ·  961 reviews
While restoring a 15th-century painting which depicts a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight, Julia, a young art expert, discovers a hidden inscription in the corner: Quis Necavit Equitem. Translation: Who killed the knight? Breaking the silence of five centuries, Julia's hunt for a Renaissance murderer leads her into a modern-day game of sin, betrayal, a ...more
Paperback, 295 pages
Published June 7th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published 1990)
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Julia Guys, the paintings you see at movie and researching online are modern illustrations! Real Pieter Van Huys lived 100 years later and his style was com…moreGuys, the paintings you see at movie and researching online are modern illustrations! Real Pieter Van Huys lived 100 years later and his style was completely different (more like Hieronymus Bosch). According to his biography in the book, this man had nothing to do with the story. And also the people depicted in painting are all fictional.(less)

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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,275 ratings  ·  961 reviews


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Matthew Roche
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
I wanted so badly to love this book.

The simplest way to describe it is the novelisation of Douglas Hofstadter's opus, "Godel, Escher, Bach." In fact, it is impossible to believe that Perez-Reverte had finished G.E.B. more than ten minutes before furiously scribing "The Flanders Panel."

I wanted to love it because I love books based on puzzles and logic, and GEB may be one of my favorite books of all time.

But the novel is just so weak. The characters (caricatures?) were flat and absurd - how many
...more
Kelly
May 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: intellectual mystery lovers, art history scholars, fatalists
Well that was just as good as I remembered. Everything I said below still holds true. The tale may have felt a bit more heavy handed this time, but I think that's only because I knew who the murderer was and as Sherlock Holmes says, "I only saw it because I knew what I was looking for." It didn't diminish the pleasure of the experience.

This re-read had me focusing a lot more on characterization since I didn't have to be obsessively caught up in the mystery. What is beautifully done here is showi
...more
Manny
My friend Cathy (also a chessplayer) told me I had to read this, and she was indeed right. I couldn't put it down, and finished it in about a day. It's... well, what is it? I read it as a kind of postmodernist reimagining of Alice Through The Looking-Glass. Other books I immediately thought of were The Name of the Rose, Gödel, Escher, Bach and Luzhin's Defense.

Formally, it's a very stylized murder mystery. Julia, the sexy but childlike Alice figure, is a Madrid art restorer. She receives an unu
...more
Trini
Nov 17, 2007 rated it did not like it
This disappointed me, especially since it came so highly recommended. I just couldn't buy into it though. The plot was absurd and unbelievable in numerous places. The characters lacked common sense. Let's see...someone is trying to kill me...I think I'll go out late at night by myself and cruise around the city, hail taxis, go to a nice restaurant, and then head back to my apartment for a quiet night by myself where the killer just so happens to know I live. That kind of crap really grated on me ...more
Bob
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
I got this as a birthday present and took it with me on our Thanksgiving trip. I wish I had taken the Manhattan phone book instead. It would have had a lot more interesting characters and none of them would be such implausible things as the characters of this novel. The whole structure is so contrived it ultimately collapses under its own weight. The book is built around a convoluted metaphor like "art is chess is life is art," but the harder the author works at it, the more tenuous it becomes. ...more
Vaso
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book almost 16 years ago, but I still remember how fascinated I was after.
For me, back in the '90-'00s, if you haven't read a book of Mr Reverte, couldn't have a clue about his writing skills!
I recommend this one, to anyone who adores art and mystery, especially if they are bond so well in a book
Katerina
The book's main theme is a painting by Peter van Huys. Julia is restoring paintings and a painting representing a chess game between the Duke of Flanders and his knight is her current task. While running her tests she discovers a hidden message under the tablecloth saying: Who killed the knight? So Julia starts trying to solve the mystery of a murder that took place centuries ago. But murders start taking place around Julia and then the chess game becomes a death threat.

Although the book starte
...more
Haider Hussain
Aug 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
I had high hopes with this one. Alas!

Flanders Panel opened up brilliantly and hooked me right in. Nonetheless, what started with arts and history culminates into a mundane anti-climax (You don’t see such a miserable finale often). Pathetic!

No spoilers here, but I can’t help sharing a particularly foolish, absurd and downright annoying inference from such a sublime and graceful game of Chess. Hold your breaths and read this conversation between two characters:

“The mathematical aspect of chess,” h
...more
Harold
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
excellent! I love this blend of top shelf entertainment, intrigue and mystery which at the same time informs the reader of the mores of the Art World, the in and outs of restoring paintings, and, most prominently, the game of chess. As mediocre a player as I am, I was still able to follow the descriptions and logic of the moves and the use of a 500 year old chess game that is relevant to the mystery unfolding before us is just flat-out clever.

Reverte also wrote The Club Dumas, another book that
...more
Lena
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chess-theme


I loved it! This was a Goodreads recommendation based on my love of The Eight and it was dead on. The novel is a murder mystery played out as a game of chess on many levels linking the mysteries of the past to those of the present centered around a fifteenth century painting, aptly titled, The Game of Chess.

Unlike The Eight, the story takes place in one time and city, though there is an element of magical realism as Julia gets so lost in her imaginings of the past that the painting pulls her in
...more
Ed
May 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
AnaΣtaΣia
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually it is 3,5/5 stars but I didn't have the heart to put only 3 stars in this book!
Mark Hebwood
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Overall, I liked this fine. Characters had real depth, were idiosyncratic, querky, troubled, colourful, and well-developed. The plot was complex, and Arturo managed to create an unusual whodunit by peppering his detective story with elements from the arcane worlds of reverse-chess and philosophy of perception.

Beginning to sound a little bit weird? Yes that is also what I thought. Sure, Arturo differentiates himself from the pack by writing something I might call a "literary thriller". But I cou
...more
Louize
Jul 12, 2010 rated it really liked it

"I would say that chess has more to do with the art of murder than it does with the art of war.”

The Flanders Panel is the picture of Chess in its truest form.
Every piece is a character. Every move is an influence. To win it, you must cross death.

“Amazing,” he murmured.

There is no better word to describe it. The enigma itself may not be that surprising, but the steps undertaken to manipulate, and likewise, to uncover it was engaging.

ooo------------------ooo--------------------ooo---------------
...more
Eric
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Like other Pérez-Reverte books, this one initially consumed me. All the elements of his novels are present: interesting and complex characters, a modern mystery that plays out against a historical backdrop, in-depth descriptions that bring to life arcane subjects - in Club Dumas the antique book trade, in Fencing Master fencing, in this book, chess.

Unlike other Pérez-Reverte books, however, this one lost me in the last quarter when the mystery was resolved. I found the revelation of who and why
...more
Joseph
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Read as a trashy mystery novel, there's really nothing objectionable about this, although for some reason, I was really expecting more. Especially galling was the villain, complete with a needlessly complicated, and mostly pointless, plan that seems to exist only so that the novel might exist. When the villain finally gives an explanatory monologue at the end, the rationale is, quite frankly, kind of offensive (and it feels unintentionally so).

The chess and historical subplots ended up seeming r
...more
Snoozie Suzie
I really enjoyed this to start, but by the end I was disappointed. What didn't bother me at the beginning did in the end as it was kind of unfinished due to lack of character involvement/development which left it all hanging a bit and so unsatisfactory.

The chess side of things was very clever, but got a bit overwhelming toward the end I felt. But a clever alternative view of a murder mystery. In a way it reminds me of a Nancy Drew mystery as they often revolved around objects.
Marie desJardins
Jul 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
I found this book very tedious, from the turgid writing style (translated too literally from the original Spanish, I suspect) to the excessively detailed chess expositions to the surprisingly boring analyses of the medieval mystery of the white knight's death. The misogyny and homophobia throughout the book are problematic too. It was interesting enough to keep reading, but unappealing enough that I regret having stuck with it.
Gigi
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, gothic
After first reading this cleverly constructed mystery more than a decade ago, I've made the happy discovery that it stands up to re-reading. I don't play chess, but I still found it thoroughly enigmatic and engaging.
Ashley
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
On paper I should have loved this book. It dealt with medieval history, art restoration, chess, deduction, ...AND MURDER. Also the whole book has a very 90s feel about it. At times I felt like I was watching a VHS copy of a Double Jeopardy era mystery/suspense film. Kinda fun.

And yet, something held it back from being great. I’m still trying to put my finger on what it was, to be honest. Occasionally the translation felt clunky, and frequently, the novel’s action was told rather than shown. I f
...more
Vitor Hugo Vergilio
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Loved it. Like the other one before. I really didn't see it coming :)
Grace Tjan
This book, my second from the author, contains all the ingredients that should make it an engrossing read: art, medieval history, and mystery. However, after slogging through it for several days, I find the main mystery to be too contrived to be believable (that 20-page exposition at the end by the villain scarcely helps at all), and the other ingredients merely garnish instead of an integral part of the story. Sure, there are plenty of literary allusions (we are beaten over the head with the on ...more
Silvia
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009
For the most part "The Flanders Panel" was a disappointment. It was undoubtedly well-researched, but the plot didn't grab me. I never felt that tug pulling me to the book and forcing me to continue reading. I could put it down at any moment. I like this author, but I found this book cliched and shallow. The characters lacked depth, and there was a repetitive quality to the prose, so that I found myself correctly anticipating how a sentence would end. I had difficulty connecting with his world of ...more
Debra
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I really wanted to like this book because the premise was so great. Guess I wasn't quite enough the intellectual to understand all the philosopher references, all the Latin, and, of course, the chess - even though the chess-game-run-backwards was painfully explained at one point (even enough for this novice to understand).

Plus the characters were not believable and seemed stereotyped. The author went out of his way to describe one's beauty, and one's sophistication, etc., ad nauseum. Great premi
...more
Marky
Nov 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
I don't remember how I got a hold of this book, but one day I found it while cleaning my bookshelves.
The book started off pretty good, captivating mystery and murder story, reminded me of The Da Vinci Code a little. But boy, by the middle of the book the story was getting weirder and weirder and the ending was completely unrealistic and unbelievable. I would not recommend this book at all. If you want a good mystery book, try The Da Vinci Code. If you want a good murder book, any of Agatha Chris
...more
Diane
Jun 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Perez-Reverte writes fast-paced witty novels, mostly based in his home country of Spain. The Flanders Panel was the first of his that I read, and maybe the very best. It has a mystery and a puzzle about the Flanders Panel, which (if I remember, after many years), has a hidden message in it that reveals an old mystery. Wonderful book.
William
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a murder mystery fundamentally, but one so cerebral and smart that you may not recognize it. If you like chess, that helps, but I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this intellectual romp. reminiscent of The Eight, but without the fantasy elements.
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is one of the most intelligent thrillers I have ever read. The five hundred years old game of chess from an old painting comes to life. Ancient mystery, romance and murder enchanted on canvas and mirrored in reality. And only one question remains: who killed the Knight?
Ana-Maria Bujor
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime, fiction
I left this book feeling the author did not really ave a story and just made up stuff on the spot. I think this would have made a great short story about discovering the story behind the painting via chess. And stop there. But no, there is some convoluted and needlessly graphic murder plot that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The motivations of the killer left me scratching my head and I've read quite a few crime novels with outlandish premises.
Which is disappointing, because the part of p
...more
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Play Book Tag: The Flanders Panel - Perez-Reverte - 2 stars 2 10 Nov 01, 2019 08:11PM  
Good read. Not great. 3 50 Nov 23, 2013 02:27PM  
La Stamberga dei ...: La tavola fiamminga di Arturo Pérez-Reverte 1 3 Nov 23, 2013 07:49AM  
Around the World: Spain: Louise recommends The Flanders Panel 1 12 Nov 18, 2011 05:51AM  

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Spanish novelist and ex-journalist. He worked as a war reporter for twenty-one years (1973 - 1994). He started his journalistic career writing for the now-defunct newspaper Pueblo. Then, he jumped to news reporter for TVE, Spanish national channel. As a war journalist he traveled to several countries, covering many conflicts. He put this experience into his book 'Territorio Comanche', focusing on ...more

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