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The Empress of Tempera

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Paire Anjou came to New York to be an artist, but thus far has only achieved an artist boyfriend—the enfant terrible of the art world, Derek Rosewood. On her way to his show, where his controversial paintings will be on display, Paire sees an older man on the sidewalk, looking into the window of the Fern Gallery, gazing intently at a painting, and sobbing. As Paire ...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Diversion Publishing
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Felice Laverne
The Empress of Tempera is the tale of Paire Anjou, a 20-year-old Maine native running from her past turned art student in New York City. Two years after fleeing her traumatic upbringing, she has successfully reinvented herself and bagged a famous artist boyfriend, has landed a job at an art gallery and become obsessed with the gallery’s main attraction, a vivid painting by a Chinese artist whose flash of fame was all too brief and mysterious. In finding herself and understanding her obsession ...more
Alex Dolan is the author of THE EUTHANIST and THE EMPRESS OF TEMPERA. After just finishing, The Euthanist, and loving it, I was anxious to start his new novel, The Empress of Tempera.

I have to say that I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, and did not realize that it involves the art world. Not being drawn to the art world, when I have purchased a painting, it is because I like the picture, or something attacks me to the picture. I either like it…or I don’t. I definitely don’t have
Vengeful art collectors, the skullduggery of street artists, theft, murders, obsessive passion inspired by the work of a long lost Chinese artist: "The Empress of Tempera" gradually built all of these complex elements into an exhilarating and extremely satisfying mystery novel. As the suspense increased and more was revealed about the characters chasing the fabulous painting, "The Empress Xiao Zhe Yi, Seated" by Qi, it was impossible to put down the riveting story. You don't have to be an art ...more
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Review copies available now! Just released! Email:

I had loved Alex Dolan's novel The Euthanist The Euthanist by Alex Dolan which was non-stop action from start to finish, so forgive me for thinking that this, his second novel would be of a similar style. Not so. So the first thing I would say to those considering reading this book is go in expecting the wonderful, don't compare to the first novel and look for the subtleties that rest in the words of this quite beautiful book.

I am not an art
Linda Strong
I don't know a lot about art ... but I know what I like when I see it. That's probably the sentiment of a lot of us. We look at a painting and see colors, or images of people that look familiar to us, or all the beautiful scenery around the world. we like what's pleasing to the eye...not necessarily caring who the artist is.

But what if there was a painting that inspired anger, violence, hate, rage, greed, lust?

Paire Anjou came to New York to be an artist. Her boyfriend is the noted Derek
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This story centres around the portrait of a Chinese empress, which seems to be unnaturally alluring and seems to cast a spell over people. The protagonist, an art student who has changed her name to escape her family's past, becomes embroiled in the tale of this painting when she visits an art gallery, which is also showing her boyfriend's work, and witnesses a man stabbing himself in front of the portrait.
If it hadn't been for my stubbornness to finish what I start I would have happily put
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really didn't know what to expect with this book. I think the title was a bit misleading, I was kind of expecting a real empress from some place called tempera but it soon became apparent that the tempera referred to a type of paint using egg white. I did know about that but didn't make the connection (I had the book on my Kindle for ages and didn't re-read the blurb). Anyway - this book was a slow burn. But if you have patience it will be rewarded with a delicious tale of obsession and ...more
"The woman in the painting was a beacon for lost souls."

I want to thank Mr. Alex Dolan himself for supplying me with a copy of his latest book for this review! It is a tremendous honour to be able to illustrate my opinion and knowing it's appreciated!

I will start by saying, this book did have it's differences from The Euthanist, but it also had it's similarities. Those common factors were the parts that I actually admired most about both stories which is what made my rating what it was. They
Mary Picken
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having read and enjoyed The Euthanist, I was looking forward to reading Alex Dolan’s new novel.
The Empress is a painting that captivates and almost entrances those who see it. Paire Anjou is a young woman with a dark past that she is desparate to leave behind, but which haunts her every day. She is in the process of transforming herself from her birth name, Kate Novis, to the more exotic and artistic, Paire Anjou, when the book opens.

As she leaves the court with her legal name change secured,
Kyle Wendy Skultety (
This review originally appeared on my blog at
Thanks to Diversion Books for gifting me this book for review!

EMPRESS is the kind of book that has a dark undercurrent running through it. The darkness may ebb and flow, but it’s always there. Paire is a character who may be sympathetic at times, and other times she will make you cringe and wonder what you ever saw in her in the first place.

The titular Empress is the sun around which everyone’s world revolves. Dolan’s
Carol Keen
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like mysteries, and I love art. So this book looked like it would be great for me. I was hesitant to get it, but decided to anyway.

Yes, it is slow. Really slow for a while. If you push through that, it starts to tell a story that gets more interesting. Think of it like a painting, which this book is about. Sometimes you have to prime the canvas before you paint. The book has layers, that you could compare to colors being added until the painting is complete.

So, Kate Novis has a past she
Misfits farm
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Paire is an art student. She sees a man kill himself when looking at a picture in the window of an art gallery, and through a set of circumstances ends up with a job there. The picture is rather a mystery, but why does it have a hold on several people? Paire is in a relationship with an artist and together they start to enjoy “guerrilla installations” and all that is involved in the subterfuge of this.
This is an enjoyable descriptive book following Paire’s life with some insight into her past
DNF I was expecting a little more action from this book according to the blurbs. I read about 25% of the book and there was no action. It was pretty much the main character who I just could not connect with talking about her life and what else pretty much had my eyes glazed over. I do know that she kept mentioning some traumatic event that happened earlier in her life. I'm pretty sure she mentioned this at least a couple of dozen times. I'm not sure what that trauma was and I wasn't even ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A wonderful view of the passion ignited by art! But is that really what is happening? I didn't really expect this to be such the mystery that it was. The Empress of Tempera has theft, murder, double-crossing, love, mayhem, sex, etc. Paire Anjou just thought she was escaping her horrible childhood by moving to New York and pursuing a career in art. Instead she finds herself magnetically drawn to a portrait and thrust into the history of the artist. Without giving away secrets and plot lines, ...more
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
The novel starts slowly. A woman is living in NY and has had her name legally changed because she is trying to forget her past. She is living with an established artist who is setting up a showing of his work at a nearby gallery. When they get there she sees a painting of an Asian woman that completely amazes her. When she returns home she begins sketching the various parts of the painting. Eventually she begins working at the gallery and is entranced by the painting. This is only the onset of ...more
Sherri Lewis
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
*** I received an advanced e-copy from Net Galley in exchange for my honest opinion

A girl with a tragic past changes her name and moves to New York to study art. One day, as she is walking towards the gallery that will be showing her boyfriend's art, she sees a man staring at a painting in the window. As she watches the man stabs himself and dies. She herself becomes obsessed with the painting "The Empress". My only complaint about this book is that it spent 90% of the book hinting at Paire
Jay Williams
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A piece of fine art is at the center of a whole series of evolving mysteries. As the story progresses, tiny revelations build to a stunning climax. New York City is on display as the stage for most activity. The many plot threads keep the reader interested but not overwhelmed. The characters are developed as a part of the ongoing mysteries. The role of art as a stimulus to many kinds of action comes across throughout the story.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Good quality thriller with an art twist. Several unexpected plot complications that I didn't see coming (always a good thing).
Jo Reason
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
The author Alex Dolan very kindly sent me this book, his second, as an ARC, I read his other book The Euthanist from netgalley a while back and it is fantastic. This is soooo different writing style, while I did enjoy it I found it a little slow for my current frame of mind. The writing itself is superb, there are some amazing descriptions, details of the paintings and the life of Paire, I just found that this wasn’t the time to read this. It is a book to savour, read slowly enjoy. Please dont ...more
Kelsi H
Aug 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Please read all of my reviews at!

As this novel begins, Katie Novis has just renounced her former identity and is now Paire Anjou. It is a ridiculous name, but perfectly suits her new persona and her ambition to become an artist in New York City. She has left behind her unhappy past and her dysfunctional, criminal parents to pursue a future with her up and coming artist boyfriend, Derek Rosewood.

On her way to Derek’s showing at the Fern Gallery, Paire stops
Viviane Crystal
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Katie Novis legally changes her name to Paire Anjou because her family’s name is notorious for a horrible criminal event. She’s very artistic and bohemian in taste and thinks her life in New York as a new artist is bound to be new and refreshingly clean of nefarious doings. Her life with her boyfriend Derek Rosewood is exciting as he is a graffiti-guerrilla style artist who wants to both shock viewers and awaken them to social consciousness about troubling issues. There’s an element of crime in ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Empress of Tempera by Alex Dolan is a highly recommended thriller/mystery set in the art world of NYC and challenges the value and meaning of art.

In the opening of The Empress of Tempera, Katie Novis legally changes her name to Paire Anjou. Paire, who is attending the Manhattan School of Art and Design, MSAD, adopts her new name In an attempt to distance herself from her past spent in Maine being tormented by classmates over a terrible act her parents committed. Now, legally Paire and the
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The theme for my summer reading selection seems to be "wouldn't have read this normally but so glad I did!"

The Empress of Tempera is a great mystery, centered in the world of art, artists, art students/schools/museums, with much page-turning suspense in every chapter. Throw in a little romance, a lot of intrigue, US-China political drama, and excellent writing, and you have a book I couldn't wait to continue reading, and was sad to finish!

I am NOT a huge suspense/mystery reader, but this book is
Alex Dolan
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
"Art can be seductive, powerful, transformative. It can also tempt, lie, destroy. Alex Dolan's gripping The Empress of Tempera reveals the dark side of beauty through a story of knife-sharp suspense full of wicked surprises."

—Andrew Pyper, bestselling author of The Demonologist and The Damned

"From the first page till the last, I was mesmerized by this novel. Much like watching a painter, each stroke is a joy to watch, the full image coming into focus at the moment you least expect it. With a
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy from the author and Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!
Too bad Qi is not a real painter because his portrait of a Chinese Empress sounds fantastic! This book tells the story of a masterpiece and the passions it arouses in everybody who's around it. At its heart, there is a mystery (what happened to Qi and where are all his paintings?); there is a heist that raised my blood pressure to dangerous levels and there is a cast of
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it
I wouldn't really classify this as a mystery or thriller book. It has some action in the second half, but there really isn't a strong sense of mystery. However, the book is well written and art lovers would definitely enjoy the book. The story starts out slow and a lot of focus is put on the main character's history. I think it is emphasized too much.
I see this story more about a young woman learning who she really is. That part of the book is very good. The descriptions and word choice used by
Jennifer Jamieson
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Paire Anjou moved to New York to become someone else. She moved in with a popular artist boyfriend and started art school. One day, standing in front of the gallery her boyfriend was showing in, a man stares in the front window at another artist on display in the gallery. It is the last known Qi painting; an ancient empress stares at the viewer. It is compelling. The man stares, enraptured, as he stabs himself in the chest.

The painting is an object of obsession, and the center of the book's
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You had me at Paire Anjou!

Thank you for bringing me into an intriguing journey of art and murder. I could see a the Empress as you described her beauty and having travelled to China and understanding the complexity of its relationship with modern day artists, made the historical narrative of the painting even more magical. I loved your first book, this one and look forward to more!
Lynn Mccarthy
Oct 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
After reading the Euthanist from the same Author I was eager to start this book but sorry to say i just didn't like it that much.This book is about the Art world and the story just didn't interest me that much sorry.

Thank you to the Author Netgalley and publisher for a chance to read this book.
Jennifer Kincheloe
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Lyrical, literary, and totally fresh. I was captivated by this novel, which deftly manages to be both a thriller and an exploration of the meaning and power of art.

The premise is brilliant, the characters deeply interesting. It has one of the most exciting endings EVER.
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Alex Dolan is the author of THE EUTHANIST and THE EMPRESS OF TEMPERA. He is also the host of "Thrill Seekers," part of Authors on the Air Global Radio Network, which reaches three million listeners worldwide.

He is a member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime, and has been an executive committee member of the San Francisco Bay Area's Litquake festival. In addition, he has