FBI Agent Lucian Glass is certain that Malachai Samuels is behind a robbery in Vienna that left Glass badly injured and a woman dead. The theft was of a list of memory tools, objects that will unveil a person’s past lives. As co-director of the Phoenix Foundation, dedicated to the science of past-life study, Samuels is obsessed about proving the reality of reincarnation. In a related story, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is restoring the ancient Persian statue Hypnos, a possible repository of a memory tool. Several seemingly unrelated criminals plan to steal Hypnos from the museum. In another case, Glass investigates the recent demolition of a Matisse painting stolen twenty years ago. Glass was badly injured in that robbery and his girlfriend was killed.
Rose deftly draws each of the many plotlines, which include past-life stories of some of the characters, until they converge on a single night at the Met. Although I marveled at the complex plot and how everything fell into place at the end, I found this thriller a bit flat. The writing is clunky, slowing the pace of the narrative, such as this description of an object unimportant to the story: “This was a green, cobalt and turquoise tile blown up to bleed off the edges of the paper with silver type outlined in black that read, Early Persian Tilework, the Medieval Flowering of Kashi and, beneath that, the dates of the exhibition that had opened in January and would run through June.” Additionally, there are so many characters that it is hard to keep track of them—a problem rare for me.
This is the third installment in the Reincarnationist series. Faithful followers of Rose will most likely overlook these small flaws and find the mysteries and interwoven intrigues enough.