Saving Picasso

Written by Mark Skeet
Review by Rachel Malone

Barcelona during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Host of the 1940 Olympic Games and a city playing peacebroker chess between Russia and Germany. Richard Clare has been sent by the London Evening Standard as their Games reporter, determined to meet up with his former love – Clare and ends up being involved in a far more sensational plot. Picasso wants to defect.

As you can see from the outset, Saving Picasso is set in a slightly parallel history, one where the 1940 Games were not cancelled entirely, but transferred from Tokyo to Barcelona. I have to admit to finding it a bit difficult to understand this as the opening statement gives a very strong feel of a news brief, and it took me some time to realise that this was an alternate history story rather than a massive mistake on behalf of the author.

Saving Picasso twists and turns and certainly does not lose pace. There are enough flashbacks of Civil War Spain to keep fans of battle happy as well as more than enough espionage to keep spy fans enthralled. For a debut novel, Skeet has certainly set his bar extremely high, and I hope he manages to keep his demanding high level in future books.