#aww2020 · 2020 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · 2020 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · mystery · thriller

POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020: Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic

pop sugar 2020 9May

Today I am marking off my seventeenth #17 checkpoint category for the POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020 with:

a book set in a city that has hosted the olympics

Art dealer Alex Clayton and conservator John Porter are thrilled to be previewing the painting in the shadows smallMelbourne International Museum of Art’s (MIMA) newest exhibition, until they witness a museum worker collapse and badly damage a reportedly cursed painting.

Belief in the curse is strengthened when MIMA’s senior conservator Meredith Buchanan dies less than twenty-four hours later while repairing the work. But Alex and John are convinced there is a decidedly human element at work in the museum.

The evidence sets them on the trail of a mysterious painting that could hold a key to Meredith’s death, and the stakes are raised higher when Alex is offered her dream job at MIMA. Damaging the museum’s reputation will jeopardise her professional future. The friends soon realise they are facing an adversary far more ruthless than they had anticipated, and there is much more at risk than Alex’s career.


A swirling art suspense mystery novel, Painting in the Shadows is the second issue in the Alex Clayton series. Featuring pragmatic lead and art specialist Alex Clayton, this installment of the art crime series plunges the reader in a tale of a dangerous crime centered at the very heart of a thriving museum. Compelling and captivating, Painting in the Shadows exudes a strong air of suspense from the open to the close of this intriguing masterpiece.

The heart of the action takes place in a Melbourne art gallery this time around as Alex Clayton contends with another art based mystery in Painting in the Shadows. Pulling in her friend and conservator John Porter, Alex is charged with previewing the latest exhibition at the Melbourne International Museum of Art, when a shock accident occurs, involving one of the museum workers. A cursed painting is reportedly the cause of the incident. This curse is reiterated across the halls of the Melbourne International Museum of Art. When yet another tragic incident occurs at the museum, this time to a senior conservator, questions begin to swirl about the possibility of a malevolent force at work. Alex and John embark upon a fact finding mission, in the hope that they can find a connection between these tragic incidents and the strange painting that seems to link these accidents together. Alex is drawn further and further into the depths of this case. Meanwhile the museum’s integrity and Alex’s professionalism is put at risk as she continues to interrogate this mysterious case of an art murder.

Having read the latest and third issue in the Alex Clayton series just recently, I thought it was high time that I retrieved book two from my shelves and indulged in yet another compelling adventure with this appealing art dealer. I have really enjoyed Katherine Kovacic’s series and I am hoping there are more novels in store for fans.

I really loved Melbourne’s art world when I visited this city just over a year ago. I actually wish had more time to explore the galleries and the striking street art. Painting in the Shadows takes the reader directly into Melbourne’s art world, by featuring the majority of the action of the novel at the fictional Melbourne International Museum of Art. What a shame this museum is fictional! However, I don’t think I would want to be in the vicinity of the cursed painting! That aside, I thought Kovacic did an excellent job of outlining the operations of the museum. It was absolutely fascinating, almost to the point that I would love to cast my current career to the wayside in favour of a new job in the art world!

Joining Alex Clayton who is again presented extremely well in the pages of this novel is John Porter. John is Alex’s friend and sidekick. The accompanying dialogue between these two is a real treat. There is a nice rolling but natural banter between this twosome.  The mix of humour, wit and intelligence made the sequences between the leads a delight to read. Kovacic adds a number of secondary protagonists who are pertinent to the story at hand. These were interesting figures, presented clearly on the pages of Painting in the Shadows by Kovacic.

Storyline wise, there is plenty for the reader to contend with. From a murky painting, underhanded tactics at the gallery, suspect figures and strange happenings, this is an entangled narrative that definitely requires some light detective work. I took it in my stride, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with Alex as she diligently toiled to solve this perplexing art mystery.

As with the previous two books I have read by Katherine Kovacic, it is clear that the author has put her specialist knowledge of the art world to optimal use in this novel. I appreciated seeing the world and the things that occur within the pages of this story from a true artist’s gaze. Alex’s unique way of making sense of the world via artistry makes for an observant read.

Painting in the Shadows reminds the audience that Katherine Kovacic really is a tour de force in the art mystery fiction world. This author has produced yet another thrilling novel, saturating the reader in a tale of galleries, art, speculation and crime. A sure winner in my eyes.

**** 4.5 stars

Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic was published on 4th March 2019 by Echo Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Painting in the Shadows, Katherine Kovacic, visit here.

Painting in the Shadows is book #53 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

4 thoughts on “POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020: Painting in the Shadows by Katherine Kovacic

  1. I must tell April about this series she might be very interested if art is heavily featured. Another book that I’ve added to the top of the list and it being a series I’ll see if I can find the first one somewhere. I used Sydney for the Olympics city prompt. This was a nice easy category.
    I hope you do get back to Melbourne one day, it’s a gorgeous place. It’s been 13 years since we visited though it doesn’t seem that long ago. Once lockdown is over we want to get out there and see more of Australia but the thing is where to start, we’ve made a list of the first places to travel to but that list is getting so long we’ll be doing the eeny meeny miny moe thingy LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you really must tell April. I can;t recommend it enough, such a great series! I hope you can source the first book, its truly excellent and based on a real historical true crime!
      I agree what an easy category, especially since we were able to use Australian cities and Aussie books!
      Thank you and I do hope so too, Jason and I had a ball. I would love to revisit. I’m sure you have a lovely long list of places to visit once all this is over!


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