The Icon

Written by Neil Olson
Review by Claire Morris

A very old image of the Holy Mother is taken from a Greek church during World War II to be traded to a Nazi officer for guns. But the plan goes awry: people get killed and the icon disappears. Nearly sixty years later, a Swiss banker dies in New York, and Ana, his granddaughter, decides to sell a piece of his art to pay for expenses. Enter Matthew Spear, expert from the Metropolitan Museum and grandson of the andarte behind the original theft. Add in the icon’s mystical power, and the possibly connected truth that men will commit murder to possess it, and we have a smart and complex thriller.

While only a fraction of this novel is set in the past, the events unfolding in it are wholly dependent on that past. The story and its characters came across to me as completely believable; the word pictures are artfully drawn. As I read The Icon, I could see it as a film. This is not just another thriller to toss in the “read” pile. Beyond the plot are commentaries on degrees of religious belief, obsession with objects when lives are at stake, and the ability of art to move us.