A slow burning thriller, with a depth of artistic detail—a welcome addition to Green’s canon of work.
John M. Green returns with his second book in as many years—which, considering it had been five years since his previous one–makes for a welcome return. The only downside, if it could be called that, is that it’s the first in a new series after his last Tori Swyft novel left us on a cliff-hanger.
Green’s new book is titled Framed and introduces his latest female protagonist, JJ, short for Justine Jego—or, to use her full name, Justine Vincent van Gogh Jego. Her full name comes from her van Gogh-obsessed father, Hugh. That’s right, Hugh Jego. Say it out loud, if you don’t quite grasp the irony.
JJ is a Gallery Curator, housesitting for her Gallery Director boss on Sydney’s shores, when she looks across at an adjacent apartment and spots what she believes is a long lost VvG. The work, Six Sunflowers, was believed to have been destroyed during World War Two, so, how can it be hanging on a wall in a Sydney apartment? Thus begins JJ’s investigation—her own Veronica Mars moment, as she describes it—which plummets her down an extremely dangerous rabbit hole.
Over the course of the book, we learn of the painting’s movements, particularly in the hands of the Farrelly Crime Family, an Irish Mob run by siblings Niall and Niamh, whose father recently passed the business to them upon his demise from cancer.
Once again, Green’s book is heavily driven by the down-to-earth female lead. JJ is akin to a calmer little sister of Tori Swyft (The Trusted, The Tao Deception, Double Deal). She isn’t looking for trouble, she just cannot believe her eyes. As she pursues the potential truth, her life is turned upside down, resulting in her approach to her estranged father, a Police Detective and VvG aficionado.
The novel is slow to reveal details, though thankfully the destinations are worthy of the journey. The twists and turns, while fantastical, are never too far-fetched, making for an enjoyable escapist read. All the characters have their own nuances, too, which makes for enjoyable reading. When combined with JJ’s internal monologue, it can make for laugh-out-loud fun.
Green, once again, ends on a cliff-hanger. Which begs the question, whose cliff will be sighting next? Tori’s or JJ’s? Either way, I will be “hanging” out for both!
Reviewed by Glen Christie
This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.
Distributed by: Pantera Press
Released: August 2022