by Paul Westmoreland
Published: December 2010
Burning houses. Daring robbers. Motorway chases. Exploding boats. Flying daggers. Brutal policemen. Ruthless pirates. Beautiful women. Deadly bullets. Racing hearts. International Criminals. Narrow escapes. Tricks, stings and electrocutions. And a priceless painting by one of art’s world’s most notorious masters.
Welcome to the adventures of Vincent Ward, where getting through each day alive just isn’t enough.
Overall I thought this was a pretty good read. There was a lot of action, and the sequences were detailed and fast paced. The writing was solid, although as a Canadian American the British terms used sometimes threw me off. There seemed to be something going on with the kindle formatting of the novel as the letter l was missing consistently from words with double l, such as wall, filling, etc.
I thought the description of the art central to the plot, a piece by Caravaggio named The Cardsharps, was well done, and I loved how Vincent was constantly seeing comparisons between himself and the young man in the painting. I think Westmoreland's ability to be so descriptive not just with the actions scenes but also with an art that is so visual is a definitely strength.
The only aspect of the story that I struggled with was its intended audience. YA is a genre that can be hard to define, and I'm not sure Cardsharp falls into that genre, yet I don't see it as an adult novel either. First, Vincent is well out of his teens. He's graduated from university and is working full time at the National Art Gallery, a number of times he appears at a bar drinking wine (not that drinking can't be part of YA, but it needs to be realistic) and most importantly he does not deal with any young adult issues. Instead he is dealing an international theft ring, that endangers his career and life.
That said, it is not an adult novel either. Even though Vincent is an adult, he often thinks like a child, like his continued belief that the man wearing a suit and tie, driving with a police siren is a real police officer, despite trying multiple times to kill Vincent, breaking into his hotel room, and never once identifying himself the way a police officer is legally bound to do. The love interest plot line is chaste, and the over all readability is more appropriate for a younger teen audience.
Then again, I'm not a teen age boy, and I think that is who this series is geared more for.