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(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Iain George Pears was born in Coventry, England, in 1955. He received his education at Wadham College of Oxford University, where he completed a doctorate in art history. Pears enjoyed a varied career working as an art historian, a journalist, and a television consultant before becoming a writer. He worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation in both England and Germany. From 1982 to 1990 he lived and worked in Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States as a correspondent for the international news agency Reuters. These experiences provided him with a broad knowledge of topics from financial activities to sports. In addition, they served as a sort of writing apprenticeship, training him to gather information and immediately turn it into written text to meet the deadlines faced by a news reporter. Writer’s block has not been a problem for Pears. Living in these diverse countries, Pears developed an appreciation for cultural differences and a particular fondness for Italy, which became the major setting of his Jonathan Argyll mysteries.

In 1987, Pears became a Getty Fellow in the Arts and Humanities at Yale University. While in residency there, he completed the book he was writing about eighteenth century British art. In 1988, he published The Discovery of Painting: The Growth of Interest in the Arts in England, 1690-1768. The erudite and well-researched book was well received in the intellectual community and has often been referenced in subsequent works on art and cultural history.

By 1990, Pears had left his position as a correspondent for Reuters and was writing fiction full time. Combining his expertise in art and his predilection for Italy, he completed his first mystery, The Raphael Affair (1990), which launched the popular Jonathan Argyll series. Pears’s art-history mysteries immediately enjoyed success among mystery readers and received praise from critics of the mystery genre. Drawing on his ability to avoid writer’s block that he acquired as a news correspondent, he added five more mysteries to the series by 1996.

Pears then became interested in writing a historical novel. Fascinated by the similarities that he found between the period of the Restoration in England and his...

(The entire section is 531 words.)