Who is the mysterious woman in the Matisse drawing, Woman in a Blouse, Dreaming? What secrets is she hiding? Chloe Rea grew up with the Matisse sketch and believes the woman in the famous Rumanian blouse is her grandmother. But the sketch now belongs to Adam Jensen, who inherited it after his brother’s sudden death in the south of France. Now Chloe wants the sketch back, but someone else is willing to kill for it. When a prominent art dealer in Toronto is murdered, Chloe and Adam flee to France to walk in the footsteps of Matisse and the beautiful Russian named Lydia Delectorskaya, an orphan who became Matisse’s muse, model, caregiver, administrator, and companion for twenty years. Her remarkable story, set amid the darkness and treachery of wartime Nice, holds the key to a missing masterpiece.
“The multi-talented Jan Rehner, winner of the Arthur Ellis Best Canadian First Crime Novel in 2004 for Just Murder and an ippy award for On Pain of Death, turns her eye to the art world in this suspenseful novel. Matisse’s paintings, drawings, and stained glass splash bright colour against the dark hues of the war. The prose is as rich as the multi-layered plot and the book’s playful title. The answers to the tantalizing identity of Matisse’s model and meaning of life itself reside in the brush of an old man squinting in the sun as he paints one perfect pear.”
—Lou Allin, author of She Felt No Pain
“Jan Rehner is magical with pen, geography and character development, never mind art history. What a world she builds! She has once again created a magnificent story of intrigue and murder set primarily in France during World War ii. Missing Matisse is a remarkable story, a gem, a page-turner, at once captivating and reflective. Reading this mystery is like peering into a funnel that picks you up early and lets you down again very slowly. Brilliant, filmic writing; compelling, brave, complex characters, mostly women; “true stories” about Matisse, his model, Lydia, and Lydia’s connection to Canada through Chloe’s courageous grandmother, Sylvie. ”
—Marlene Kadar, Tracing the Autobiographical and Photographs, Histories, Meanings; Editor, Life Writing Series, Wilfrid Laurier Press
“Told with a gentle humour entirely in keeping with the master painter of the title, Missing Matisse offers a mystery, a romance (or two), and above all a feisty, unpredictable heroine. A swift, entertaining read.”
—Giles Blunt, author of Forty Words for Sorrow and Crime Machine