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Joey Peruggia #1

Mona Lisa's Secret

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Historical fiction - Mystery & Suspense


Joey is the great-grandson of Vincenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the original Mona Lisa in 1911. Along with his girlfriend, Marie, an art connoisseur, he stumbles across his father's secret room, and finds himself staring at what he thinks is a replica of da Vinci's most famous masterpiece.


The Louvre has kept this secret for over one hundred years, waiting for the original to come to light, and now they want it back at any cost.

With Marie held hostage and the Louvre curator and his men hot on his trail, Joey is left to run for his life in an unfamiliar city, with the priceless Mona Lisa his only bargaining chip. While formulating a plan to get Marie back with the help from an unexpected quarter, Joey discovers hidden secrets within the painting, secrets which, if made public, could change the world forever.

In this elaborately plotted, fast-paced thriller, Phil Philips takes you on a roller-coaster ride through the streets of Paris and to the Jura mountains of Switzerland, to uncover a secret hidden for thousands of years ...

To find out more visit Phil Philips: Website
View the Mona Lisa's Secret Cinematic Book Trailer: Youtube

Fans of Dan Brown's, da Vinci code will love Phil Philips Mona Lisa's Secret.


Scroll up and grab a copy today.

377 pages, Paperback

Published September 16, 2016

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Phil Philips

7 books68 followers

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5 stars
854 (36%)
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798 (34%)
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481 (20%)
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134 (5%)
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59 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 273 reviews
Profile Image for Vicki.
1,207 reviews145 followers
November 12, 2016
I was so engrossed in this hunt for ancient secrets and the fight to stay alive. The story unfolds beautifully as Joey Peruggia discovers a secret that he never expected. He knew the history of his Grandfather's actions and death so with this new evidence in hand, he sets out to repair his grandfather's reputation and good name. With his girlfriend Marie, they cross the ocean to make a past wrong right again. That is not quite the end of the story. In fact, that is only the beginning, what occurs next is an adventure fraught with danger, intrigue, and questions. Nothing is as it seems and it would do Joey well to remember that. Mysterious men and revealed secrets kept me turning the pages wondering just what was going to happen next.
With action like Indiana Jones and religious questions like with the De Vinci code, the story is amazingly well told. I really enjoyed this book.
Profile Image for Una Tiers.
Author 6 books376 followers
March 6, 2018
I'm finished and disappointed. Bank robbers and art thefts are favorites. But here the author wrote as if the book was for YA. He mixed up some ideas so much, it was comedic, but not fun to read. The protagonist is the smartest man in the world, never ruffled but often scared he is at the end of the line.
Profile Image for Jennifer S. Alderson.
Author 31 books646 followers
February 15, 2017
Mona Lisa’s Secret is a faced-paced, contemporary thriller whose story revolves around the authenticity of the Mona Lisa.

The book begins in the Louvre where an unidentified man is running through the crowded halls to the Salle des Etrats, where the Mona Lisa is displayed. He’s shot dead by the pursuing security guards as he attempts to throw some sort of acid onto the painting. His last words are that the masterpiece is a fake.

The story then switches to Manhattan where Joey, the last surviving son of an infamous New York mafia family, has decided to go straight. When he finds the real Mona Lisa in his late father’s safe, he decides returning it to the Louvre will be a great way to show his family is changing for the better. When he arrives in Paris with the Mona Lisa under his arm, he’s expecting to be publically rewarded for his actions, not that the curator will try to steal the painting and kill Joey in the process.

What follows is a chase around Europe as Joey tries to figure out why the curator is prepared to kill to get a hold of the real Mona Lisa and what truths he expects to find hidden in Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.

Reading is often colored by your expectations of the story, based in part on the marketing, cover and description. I chose to read this book for Mystery Thriller Week because it’s marketed as a historical fiction thriller. While reading it, I kept waiting for descriptive chapters taking place in the past or flashbacks to an earlier time. That never happens; this story is firmly set in the present.

The historical details that are included are loosely interpreted at best, and in some cases are actually 'facts' made up by other art conspiracy authors to make their own books seem plausible. The same can be said for the author’s descriptions of several European cities that I’ve been lucky enough to visit. His accounts of the streets, monuments and even landscapes were often unrecognizable to me and in a few cases, plain wrong.

If I’d read it as a fun, somewhat silly thriller, I would have probably have rated it higher. Partly due to my expectations that I would be learning more about the 1900s or Da Vinci, I was disappointed. However, it is an fun, action-filled adventure with lots of chase sequences and mad dashes across a slightly fictitious Europe.
Profile Image for Lynndell.
1,526 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2017
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to Mystery Thriller Week and Phil Philips for the opportunity to read and review his book, Mona Lisa's Secret. The action begins immediately with a supposed attack on the Mona Lisa painting hanging in the Louvre. In 1911, the real Mona Lisa was stolen by Joey Peruggia's great grandfather, Vincenzo. Joey and his girlfriend, Maria, discover a secret room in the mansion he inherited and, lo and behold, they find the Mona Lisa inside! They plan on returning the original painting to the Louvre, but things quickly get out of hand. Full of action, adventure, twists, surprises and suspense and even allusion to more mystery, which makes this book fun for any mystery and action reader. The author's descriptions of the France scenery and historical sites made me feel like I was actually there seeing it all in person! This written for adults story is a fairly clean read with a few swear words that are used as dialogue in swear worthy stressful events. I highly recommend this enjoyable mystery by giving it 5 stars!
Profile Image for Pam.
297 reviews12 followers
August 4, 2022
I wasn't expecting much from this book. The storyline is about a man who inherits a fortune from is mafia father. He is trying to build a new life without the mob and finds he is interested in art. It was a quick pace and there is enough action to keep you interested. You may want to add this to your "to read" list.
Profile Image for Linda Cargill.
Author 191 books95 followers
October 23, 2016
Most Famous Painting In All the World Comes Alive For The Reader:

Just before World War 1 in August of 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia. Generations later his grandson is trying to return the most famous painting in all the world to the Louvre. But it doesn't turn out to be as easy as he first thought. The director Pierre Savard has other ideas. He doesn't want the tourists to find out that the museum has been displaying a fake for years. The hero, Joey Peruggia, is in a fight for his life and his girlfriend's too. You find yourself turning the pages of Mona Lisa's Secret to discover how the riveting story will turn out in the end. In addition the author, Phil Philips from Sydney, Australia, entertains you with interesting tidbits of information about Paris and about the painting that motivates such deeds of daring.
Profile Image for Cathryn Wellner.
Author 21 books16 followers
November 16, 2016
Genre fiction is not my top reading choice so when authors ask for an honest review, I'm reluctant. But the premise of Phil Philips's book caught my imagination. I'm glad it did. I was in the mood for a quick, compelling read, and he supplied it.

When Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa in 1911, he set off a frenzy of speculation. The painting was recovered two years later, but theories about the theft have never stopped swirling around the worlds of art and conspiracy. Philips steps into the never-ending fascination with that major heist and adds his own twists.

In Philips's version the grandson of Peruggia has broken the gangster mode he inherited. Life is good until he discovers he is unwittingly in possession of the real Mona Lisa, hidden away for more than a century. That find paints a target on his back. He is plunged into an inter-continental chase with enough action to satisfy thriller readers.

I can't say too much more about the plot without warning of spoilers since there are so many revelations at every step of the journey. What I can say is that Philips's book stands comfortably alongside Dan Brown's compelling work. I was up late last night and early this morning, wanting to discover the final unfolding of the mysteries. Philips satisfied my curiosity and very cleverly planted a seed that can blossom into another book. Well done.
9 reviews
November 8, 2016
I received this from the author for an honest review.

This is another difficult review for me to write to avoid even a hint of spoilers. That said:
Everyone has a secret. EVERYONE!
Mona Lisa has at least two secrets.
Some of the characters who aren't aware that they have secrets eventually learn that even they have secrets they could never have imagined.
I've read other excellent art history mystery/thriller novels involving The Louvre and this one is right up there with the best of them.
Philips has a terrific style of describing the environs of Paris. Action is almost non-stop and the pacing will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages.
I would have liked to have learned more about the rest of the engineering involved in the harrowing scene toward the end, but perhaps that will have to wait for another time.
I've seen some compare this to the “Da Vinci Code” or “Indiana Jones”. While there are some aspects in common, Philip's presentation of “Mona Lisa's Secret” focuses on the darker side. There are no light-hearted breaks, there is barely time to catch your breath before the next catastrophe strikes.
I have no hesitation recommending this one.
Profile Image for J.E. Grace.
Author 13 books94 followers
November 14, 2016
If you enjoy books by Dan Brown, you will love this one. It has adventure, suspense, some touches of humor, and characters who will entertain you. It is definitely a page turner and one you won't want to put down.

Discovering a secret, running for their lives in another country, Joey, Marie, and Boyce enter the adventure of their life. The main character, Joey, was strong, resourceful, and I was happy with his development throughout the storyline. His girlfriend, Marie's character was also very well developed. My favorite character, however, was Boyce, the young teenager that was thrown into the mix. His addition to the story made it quite entertaining.

The author did a great job of filling in with historical information, but with a twist. Some twists were surprising and others I had a feeling were going to happen.

I would recommend this for anyone who likes an action packed adventure with some history, thriller and mystery thrown into the mix..

Profile Image for ana darcy.
248 reviews6 followers
April 16, 2017
Very entertaining story where the Mona Lisa is the key for the plot. Joey's family stole it and he found it together with her girlfriend Marie, an art expert. They decide to do the honourable thing and give it back to the Louvre where it should be. However the curator, "like a father" to Marie, does not have the same idea of making the world aware of the discovery if the real Gioconda.
They face a lot of problems to be alive as they are threaten. Part of Paris becomes the ring for the fight that Joey has against the curator's guards, the river Seine as well. Fortunately Boyce, a street teenager becomes an ally.
The mystery is not only where the real Mona Lisa has been buy what the Mona Lisa is hiding. This painting is hiding the location of a great man... who is he? is it real that the Mona Lisa is hiding a secret or is it just a tale? How are our protagonists going to survive and maybe succeed on their adventure?
A mix between "The Da Vinci Code" and a bit of "Indiana Jones".
Profile Image for Marina.
31 reviews
November 12, 2016
I have never heard of author Phil Philips and I am not familiar with his work, but I loved Mona Lisa's Secret as a wonderful treat! Full confession: I am a history buff and an art lover, and I truly enjoyed this premise and answer to the question:
What secrets did Leonardo da Vinci hide and how many of them do we know? What are the secrets of the Mona Lisa painting?
Without giving too much away, the food for thought here is that Da Vinci might have hidden a treasure and a secret location to a historical mystery in his art. This novel is entertaining, thrilling, adventure-filled and charming. Go ahead and learn something along the way about art and the history of the ancient world.
Profile Image for Matt.
834 reviews
November 4, 2020
I really wanted to rate this higher, but couldn’t. The storyline was intriguing, but the nonstop, cliffhanger chapters didn’t give me any breathing room and frankly we’re highly improbable. I know authors attempt to get you to suspend disbelief, but I found myself saying “really” after so many of the impossibilities of Joey jussssst escaping that it wore on my nerves and mind. Thus even though the premise of the real Mona Lisa panting being hidden for so many years was good, the authors execution sort of ruined the novel. Better luck next time Mr Phillips.
Profile Image for Steve.
430 reviews32 followers
May 1, 2021
A clever take on a handful of conspiracy theories set across an international backdrop and the pace of a thriller. A compelling plot and interesting characters. It made for a fast and entertaining read/listen.
Profile Image for Brooklyn Tayla.
966 reviews65 followers
November 7, 2018
I received an eCopy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Now, I’m an avid history buff, so the premise of this series definitely intrigued me. And I also have a mild interest in art, so match that with history and I’m there.
However, I did have my problems with this book. Without going into the story too much, Joey, our main character, finds that his life and that of his girlfriend is threatened, after the discovery of an apparent forgery of the Mona Lisa that has apparently been on display in the Louvre, that is until, it was destroyed by Joey’s relative. This essentially sets the foundation for the course of the book, and in saying this, I must admit that Phil Philips doesn’t cut corners, he gets right to the point! And he did keep me constantly interested in the story, weaving some mythology lore coupled with rumours about the meaning behind the true Mona Lisa painting, and I enjoyed that aspect, because it did and will make me think about this painting and it’s origins.
My favourite character, the one I only really liked throughout, is Marie. Such a fine, elegant and educated woman, passionate about history and the Arts. Did I enjoy her relationship with Joey? Kind of, like, I felt like he was being increasingly risky with her life, which was being threatened by Pierre (hated him, I feel like he didn’t even care about the artwork, he just wanted the glory and money for himself?), and I hated how callous he was towards Marie’s mother, a woman who he caused a lot of heart break. And he and his henchman were just these tough guys, they didn’t impress me that much.
Joey was likeable for most part, although I must admit I did feel sorry for him throughout, his life constantly being threatened as I mentioned. I enjoyed his scenes with Boyce, a young man who I reckon he didn’t envision crossing paths with, but their lives were definitely altered for this!
Thanks again to the author for providing me a copy of book 1 and 2 to review, I’m definitley curious about the sequel!
Profile Image for Katrina Rhoades.
13 reviews1 follower
July 4, 2017

This book kept me entertained and I nearly read the entire thing in one sitting. I want more fascinating stories like this one.
Profile Image for Xandie.
22 reviews2 followers
June 18, 2017
***I was given a Kindle Edition by the author in exchange for an honest review.***

With that said, I LOVED this novel. I get a little nervous when it comes to anything relating to historical fiction. It seems many authors have trouble finding the sweet spot between obvious fiction and believable things transpirings. Phil Philips found that sweet spot for me. There were definitely enough historical facts and research done so that nothing, no theory or idea, was completely out of the blue or didn't fit with Leonardo's legacy. I am an avid fan of Leonardo DaVinci and all his art, inventions, and philosophies. Mona Lisa's Secret did NOT disappoint. This novel has a DaVinci Code vibe, mostly because of the subject matter, but this was much easier for me to get into and enjoy. Mona Lisa's Secret is fast-paced and action packed. The story never settles into a lull, but it it's got enough space in between action scenes to truly enjoy the battle between the good guys and the bad.

I'm trying not to talk about the story because there's so much spoiling I could do, and I do not want to ruin this for anyone because I feel this is a novel to truly be enjoyed. Joey and his girlfriend, Marie, discover a secret left by Joey's father and his grandfather before him. Joey is a direct descendent of the man who stole the Mona Lisa in 1911. Everyone thought that it had been returned in 1913, but what happens now that the real Mona Lisa is discovered in Joey's house left to him by his father? Joey and Marie travel to the Louvre to return the Mona Lisa and get back Joey's family's good name, but the are met with extreme, and deadly, resistance. The curator of the Louvre refuses to let them go with the knowledge of the fake Mona Lisa that been passed as the real one for over a century. But, as the novel goes on, there's another secret mixed in with the Mona Lisa, which was the real reason it was stolen. Finding this out, Joey, Marie, and a teenager named Boyce will begin a fight for their lives and a fight to keep the secret away from the curator and his band of thugs.

Everyone has secrets in this novel, from Joey's ancestors, to the curator, to Leonardo DaVinci, and to the entire Catholic church. How far will people go to keep things secrets and how far would they go to get them revealed? The constant questions of "will they survive" and "will the secrets be revealed" will keep you turning page after page after page.

Another fact I loved was that the "good guys" characters each had flaws within themselves. I have gotten so sick of main characters being perfect all the time with no bad habits/flaws. Joey is stubborn and a bit caught up in himself at times, yet not enough to be annoying. Marie is a bit naive, even having lived in a few different countries and being extremely knowledgeable in history. It was cool to see a character who trusts those around them a bit *too* much because that's how many people act in real life. Boyce, the French teenager that gets himself caught up in everything by accident, is a bit fearful and unsure of himself at times. It was very nice to see a believable teenager that wanted to help due to curiosity and need, but that wasn't always confident in themselves ALL THE TIME, because who has really met a teenager that's 100% sure of themselves and their actions consistently? I know I haven't.

I absolutely recommend reading this book if you are in need of a very well written historical fiction-based adventure novel. I will definteily be reading more work by Phil Philips. His writing has won me over!

5/5 stars!
Profile Image for Bryan Spellman.
168 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2019
Book Riot's 2019 Read Harder Challenge #2 is "An alternate history novel." Having read Vanished Smile as my "Non-Violent True Crime" work, I found it fascinating to read Philips' Mona Lisa's Secret for this category. What if Peruggia didn't try to sell the Mona Lisa to the Uffizi? What if he worked with Chaudron to create an exact replica? What if Peruggia's great-grandson discovers the original in his father's "secret room"? What if Joey Peruggia (the great-grandson) has a girlfriend with an Art History major? What if that girlfriend has been carefully tutored by the head of the Louvre? I could go on and on. This book is an almost endless stream of "what ifs" but to say any more would give away the story. All of the questions above are answered in the first chapter, and there are 74 chapters in this book. Philips is a great story teller. Never a dull moment and lots of local color. This book has my highest recommendation.
Profile Image for Kelly.
567 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2016
The truth will be revealed. Joey is the great – grandson of Vencenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the original Mona Lisa in 1911. Along with his girlfriend, Marie, an art connoisseur, he stumbles across his father’s secret room, and finds himself staring at what he thinks is a replica of da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece. But it is no fake… The Louvre has kept this secret for over one hundred years, waiting for the original to come to light, and now they want it back at any cost. With Marie held hostage and the Louvre curator and his men hot on his trail, Joey is left to run for his life in an unfamiliar city, with the priceless Mona Lisa his only bargaining chip. While formulating a plan to get Marie back with the help from an unexpected quarter, Joey discovers hidden secrets within the painting, secrets which, if made public, could change the world forever. In this elaborately plotted, fast – paced, historical thriller, Phil Phillips takes you on a roller – coaster ride through the streets of Paris and to the Jura mountains of Switzerland, to uncover a secret hidden for thousands of years…
I recommend this book to adults especially to those who like the da Vinci code.
This book kept you turning the pages in suspense. A very entertaining tale about the famous mona lisa painting. I honestly do not enjoy f bombs in the books I read which is why I am giving this book a 4 out of 5 stars vs. a 5 star rating. I loved the history and treasure hunt that this book contained. It reminded me a lot of the movie National Treasure which is one of my favorites.
I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest review.
I rate this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Melissa.
73 reviews5 followers
May 9, 2019
Received in a giveaway. I must say I could not put it down. It was a great read. The characters, storyline, and content had me hooked from the start. I highly recommend this book.
May 3, 2017
I just want to address this before I get into my review. As you can see the synopsis states that fans of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code will enjoy this book, however, I have never read this book as I read other books of Dan Brown and in all honesty, I don't like his writing but I do however grasp how this statement can be made given it is a book filled with conspiracy theories.
Alrighty then! I was completely gripped by this book, I mean big time gripped. As I have stated before I suffer from chronic pain and I actually read until I ended up taking a flare up :-D I was just so sucked in by the possibility that this could be real!
If I talk about the book I will end up telling more of the story than is safe without giving the whole story away but it is a wonderfully written book and the story is perfect for anyone who likes mysteries and suspense. It really is one that I couldn't put down. I was doing the whole 'I'll finish this chapter then stop' but the chapters are so short I was tricked into reading more!
This is a story that I held my breath over, gasped numerous times and was crying out 'NOOO WAY'.
Thanks to the Phil Philips and Booktasters for sending me an ebook copy for review and, as always, all my thoughts are my own!
Profile Image for Lucy Krb.
25 reviews1 follower
March 28, 2017
At the begining I was a bit sceptic about the book but as soon as it moved to Paris it started to improve. I visited Paris myself so it was nice knowing the places the main characters visited. The book reminded me a lot of The Da Vinci Code, it's been written in similar way which was easy for me to read. I loved that the author was making innuendoes on Harry Potter, MacGyver and so on. The clues the author left for the main characters to follow were easy, so even a reader can make the right assumptions and work out the next step the characters will have to take, even before the characters come up with the solution. The ending was nice, suggesting there could me more into this adventure. It was an easy to read book that you can enjoy after a long day at work when you need just something nice to relax with. If you like The Da Vinci Code then I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Jay Williams.
1,707 reviews20 followers
November 26, 2016
This book is from my most favorite genre. When you are competing with the many great authors who write historical thrillers, you have to be good. Phil Philips is more than good. He is a great storyteller, and he knows how to put the right amount of detail to keep the reader in imagery without taking away from the characters and the action. His characters are multi-dimensional and provide new twists throughout the story. The action flows from the US to France, Switzerland, Cyprus and Venice. Danger and treachery dog every step of the way. The story is engrossing and thought-provoking. It is definitely one of the best I have read.
Profile Image for Mary Nieberg-Berry.
31 reviews2 followers
October 13, 2018
Mona Lisa's Secret

I can never read enough of this genre-historical mysteries,stories about lost treasure, or major historical finds that also involve mystical theory, puzzles, conspiracies, lost artifacts, ancient secrets, historical or mystical figures amidst suspense, adventure and action. "Mona Lisa's Secret" by Phil Philips rivals any of Dan Brown historical adventures. I love discovering new authors, and Phil Phillips is now on my list of favorites. I'm already reading the second book in the series "Mona Lisa's Secret" is one of the best adventure/mystery books I have read which made it impossible to put down. I want to give it more than 5 stars.
208 reviews3 followers
May 29, 2019
I don't understand the 5 star ratings, but perhaps that's just me. I got through about 1/3 and gave up. The main character is idiotic. It's of no interest to me that he's nude and aroused in the first two chapters … seriously? Does it matter that his girlfriend is 10 years older than he? Just found it boring, and that the remnant of a crime family is "rich, handsome," etc. did not help. Someone else wrote that this is written as if it's a YA book; I agree. Won't be finishing it as I can't keep my interest going enough to find out what happens.
Profile Image for Jo Mckee.
5 reviews1 follower
April 17, 2017
Loved Mona Lisa's Secret. Definitely a page turner! One of those stories where you cannot predict what will happen next. Hopefully, there is a sequel somewhere. Seemed to be open-ended as if there would be "more to the story"... Recommend read.
Profile Image for Kathy Floyd.
581 reviews1 follower
December 12, 2018
Full of thrills and chills!

Phil Phillips is a great storyteller, and one of my favorites now. This was such an exciting book, I'm already reading the second one. I didn't want to stop before starting Joey and Marie's next great adventure to write my review!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
42 reviews14 followers
April 5, 2017
Rip Roaring fun! High adventure! Much like DaVinci Code in mystery and action packed.
13 reviews
February 11, 2019
Good read

Interesting and good read. Does not have unnecessary conversations and character introduction. To the point.
He is a good writer
Profile Image for Amy.
934 reviews230 followers
August 19, 2017
Mona Lisa's Secret is the latest in a string of novels that depict the relationship between Leonardo Da Vinci and the Priory of Scion, and the novel centers around the true fact that the famous Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 and hid in a Paris apartment for two years. In this fictionalized setting, the returned painting is a fake, but the original holds secrets within it that leads to unimaginable treasure and possible humanity shaking religious documents. The story centers around the great grandson of the original their, Vincent Peruggia, and this is how we meet Joey, and his girlfriend Marie. Joey finds the painting, they recognize it as an original, and in their desire to return it, and make good on the Peruggia family name, the chase begins, and weaves through countries, underground caves, secret rooms, and through everyone's family history and connections. Naturally, each of these events are incredible and impossible, and in true novel mystery thriller form, it all comes together in revelations and interconnected history and unexpected alliances that derive from the ancient mystery itself. At the center of the novel, is everyone's favorite character in the story, a spunky teenage by named Boyce, who joins the chase, and steals the show of the novel.

3.5 stars? Picked up at the end, in fact I read the last 150/150 pages in a row, and the whole thing in 1 day. Felt like I was starting behind, as its not mentioned anywhere, but its clear an entire novel featuring the main character Joey has already taken place. This feels off-setting, and I would have liked to have felt like the novel didn't start with a prior back history, that didn't really end up being relevant to the new story. It was an art/history thriller chase kind of thing. Perfect for lovers of and similar to the Da Vinci Code. I didn't know how to classify it? Maybe mystery thriller instead of psychological thriller? I am new to shelving. Maybe 3.5 stars because while I enjoyed it, I have read so many 4 and 5 star reads this year, especially in my genres of choice, that I am reeling. Sometimes its nice to have something like this, an enjoyable thriller ride in between. Now starting the Alice Network, and so excited. Exit West is this month too.
Profile Image for Judi Moore.
Author 5 books26 followers
February 13, 2018
**Originally written for "BigAl’s Books and Pals" book blog. Received a free review copy.**

Description: This book is described on Kindle as ‘A Historical Fiction Mystery & Suspense Novel Da Vinci Code meets Indiana Jones!’. There is plenty of room for good books in the ‘history and mystery’ genre. It gives nothing away to say that we are revisiting that most complex of Renaissance men, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Priory of Sion who are both guarding and leaving clues to an ancient secret.

Author: here is a link to the website of our Phil Phillips. http://philphilips.com/about-the-author/ (There is another Phil Phillips who writes for children: he is not our Phil Phillips). Our Phil Phillips lives in Sydney, Australia and his background is in digital graphic design. He considers himself a modern Renaissance man having an interest in ‘anything and everything’. He strives to create art in everything he does, be it a magazine layout, a painting in oils or writing a thriller. His writing style has, apparently, been compared to James Patterson and Matthew Reilly. He has published two books. Mona Lisa’s Secret is his second. The protagonist – Joey Peruggia - also carries the first book, but this book stands alone just fine.

Appraisal: the book follows Dan Brownian paths. There is plenty of violence (although fortunately nobody loses body parts: I parted company with Dan Brown at that point in The Lost Symbol). There is plenty of historical stitching holding the story together (the Mona Lisa really was stolen in 1911): familiarity with Dan Brown’s tropes is taken as read, but is easy enough to catch up with should you be a history and mystery fan who has never read Dan Brown (you may be the only one …). The action moves from luxury in Los Angeles, to Paris, to the Jura mountains to Cyprus and back to Paris: the author has been to these places and takes pains to spice his scenes with local flavour.

There is plenty of meat to the plot, which is based on some fascinating historical facts with some whopping great ‘what ifs’ added. Who does not enjoy a good ‘what if’? The bigger the better!
There are a few unfocussed and/or unnecessary descriptive passages; the violence becomes a little wearying for this reader (although the hero’s escapes are most inventive); and a number of small tautologies (eg ‘the sink basin’) irritate slightly. There are a couple of plot holes. And I can just imagine what my Cypriot friends would say if they heard Cyprus described as ‘a small Greek island’ (very much an American perspective: we Europeans view the Med rather differently).

Despite the occasional fuzzy focus, the book gallops along like a horse just on the right side of bolting.

FYI: some swearing.
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