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Description - The Shifting Landscape by Katherine Kovacic

Art dealer Alex Clayton travels to Victoria's Western District to value the McMillan family's collection. At their historic sheep station, she finds an important and previously unknown colonial painting - and a family fraught with tension. There are arguments about the future of the property and its place in an ancient and highly significant indigenous landscape.

When the family patriarch dies under mysterious circumstances and the painting is stolen, Alex decides to leave; then a toddler disappears and Alex's faithful dog Hogarth goes missing. With fears rising for the safety of both child and hound, Alex and her best friend John, who has been drawn into the mystery, join searchers scouring the countryside. But her attempts to unravel the McMillan family secrets have put Alex in danger, and she's not the only one.

Will the killer claim another victim? Or will the landscape reveal its mysteries to Alex in time?

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781760686444
Format: Paperback / softback
(234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Echo Publishing
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 31-Mar-2020
Country of Publication: Australia

Book Reviews - The Shifting Landscape by Katherine Kovacic

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Book Review: The Shifting Landscape by Katherine Kovacic - Reviewed by (30 Mar 2020)

5 stars The Shifting Landscape is the third book in the Alex Clayton Art Mysteries series by Australian author, Katherine Kovacic. When art dealer Alex Clayton, accompanied by her faithful wolfhound, Hogarth, heads out to a south-western Victorian sheep station to do an appraisal at the Kinloch homestead, she’s not sure what to expect: it could be a handful of mediocre paintings, but there’s always the chance of a real find. Before meeting Alasdair McMillan (Mac), she takes a look through the shed and uncovers some works with potential, if they are cleaned and restored: she’ll need her friend and skilled art conservator, John Porter to give an opinion.

When Mac takes her on a tour of the house, Alex spots other works of some value, but it’s the landscape in the formal sitting room that takes her breath away: a stunning depiction of Kinloch by Eugene von Guérard, with a small indigenous family at the side. An extremely valuable painting in excellent condition, this alone makes her trip worthwhile.

Dinner with the McMillan family: Mac, three sons, a daughter-in-law, a daughter and a son-in-law, ought to be a relaxed affair, but the tension between the family members is palpable. Still, Alex is here to appraise, nothing more. But things get a bit more complicated when, later that evening, she and Hogarth stumble on a fatally-injured Mac.

Except that John is already en route, Alex stands ready to leave, but the family members urge her to complete her appraisal. Matters are then complicated with the disappearance, in fairly short succession, of said painting, the three-year-old future McMillan heir and one wolfhound. As they try to deduce who at the homestead has a motive for murder and/or for art theft, the banter between Alex and John is, as always, a delight. As matters develop, Alex finds herself facing the wrong end of a firearm more than once, while Hogarth ultimately proves himself a hero.

In this instalment, Kovacic touches on succession planning, the myth of the land’s traditional owners as nomadic hunters, and land rights. Her extensive knowledge of art history is apparent in every chapter: she manages to subtly include a wealth of art-related and historical information that is bound to pique the interest of the reader in historical indigenous aquaculture, architecture and agriculture, and perhaps prompt a visit to a certain indigenous site. This is probably Kovacic’s best yet, and more of Alex, John and Hogarth will be eagerly anticipated. This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Echo Publishing.

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