“There was a brief rustling sound from directly in front of them and Finn caught a quick scent of cheap aftershave before something hit her on the side of the head hard enough to take her to her knees.  The flashlight?  Maybe, because everything was dark now.  She heard Peter rush forward to help her, and in the last split second before the blackness swallowed her, she heard a distant terrible cry cut short by a drawn-out gurgling sigh and she wondered who it was making that awful noise.”

Finn Ryan is studying art history and scraping by in New York City when she stumbles upon a long-lost mythical Michelangelo drawing.  Immediately after finding it, her life changes forever.  People around her are murdered violently and someone is after Finn herself – for no reason she can see.  She heads to her last resort for safety – a mysterious man named Michael Valentine who she is only supposed to contact in extreme emergencies.  Together, they attempt to find out who is behind the murders and how it is tied to a child raised in a convent in Italy during Hitler’s reign, and a tight circle of art enthusiasts who have a suspicious link to rare and thought-to-be-lost works of art.

I pictured this book being one of those novels which tried to feed off of the Da Vinci Code frenzy, but possibly cooler because it didn’t involve the Catholic Church and did involve one of my favorite artists – Michelangelo.  Unfortunately, what I discovered was one of the worst books I’ve read in a great while.  It DOES include the Catholic Church and hardly involves Michelangelo at all.

The entire book feels piecemeal in plot.  As if the author picked three big plotlines and attempted to find ways to connect them only after they had started writing.  Finn herself isn’t bad as a character, although we hear way too much about how pretty she is (including an entire chapter describing her nude – uhhh, no thank you!)  Unfortunately, she is the only interesting person in the entire book.   The chapters jump back and forth in time – and we have no way if determining if we are in World War II, at the end or the beginning of that war, or in the present day – or somewhere else entirely.

I struggled through most of this, to keep my attention focused on what was going on.  And past the first three or four chapters, I stopped caring about anything but finishing the book.  I never thought I would praise Dan Brown’s writing, but this author tries and fails so spectacularly to mimic it that I almost wished I had picked up “Angels and Demons” instead.

“Michelangelo’s Notebook” was published in 2005 and written by Paul Christopher.

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