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Life for Dr. Owen Breese-Jones—ex-British army officer, turned philosophy professor—seems tranquil enough. That is, until the day a painting is stolen from the prestigious Queen’s University in the north east of England. Breese-Jones is soon embroiled in theft, murder and mystery as, with local crime reporter Sineade Callaghan, he tries to uncover the truth of the missing painting. Set against the tangled life of the university, the story contains strong characterization—from the implacable Harold ‘Birty’ Birtles, university head porter, to Professor Jake Jackson—“Hell, I’m the only liberal from Texas,” and dour Geordy Detective Sergeant John Fisher; from the imperturbable third-wave feminist Dr. Julia Baxter, to Hashemi Motallebi, Iranian grad-student, pursuing the American dream, and Father Brian Flannery, Irish priest turned hermit and Breese-Jones’s friend and confidente.