From the Publisher:
As deaths go, art dealer Jonathan Argyll has seen better - the last moments of Socrates, as rendered by a mediocre eighteenth-century artist, seems an unlikely painting to attract much attention. But it has found a buyer, an affluent businessman living in Jonathan's adopted city of Rome. In an exchange of favors with an art dealer colleague, Jonathan unluckily offers to transport the Death of Socrates from Paris back to Rome. The assignment seems routine enough. The Parisian art dealer will package the painting and arrange the paperwork. All Jonathan must do is carry it to its final destination. And, of course, he will then be reunited with his girlfriend, Flavia di Stefano, who just happens to work for Rome's Art Theft Squad. It sounds like a fine plan, until things start to go wrong. Jonathan begins to realize that everything is not as it should be when a stranger approaches him at the train station and attempts to run off with the painting. Why would anybody go to such risk for a relatively unimportant piece of art? The answer becomes no clearer when Jonathan finally delivers his precious parcel to Arthur Muller, its new owner in Rome. After an initial inspection of the artwork, Muller seems distinctly less interested than the would-be thief, even asking Jonathan to arrange a sale to a new buyer. But if Muller doesn't want to keep the painting, somebody else desperately wants it. As events soon prove, somebody will even kill to possess it.
Iain Pears: The Last Judgement. An Art History Mystery. Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN: 0425171485 (October, 1999), 278 p., $6.50