Isabella’s Painting by Ellen Butler

isabella's painting


All Karina Cardinal wants to do is cosy up on the sofa with her boyfriend Patrick and binge watch Netflix but here she is, wearing 4-inch heels and looking pretty at Patrick’s parents’ annual holiday bash.

Karina goes to Marty Dunne’s (Patrick’s dad) study only to find him with a mysterious man. She manages to catch a glimpse of a painting before it disappears into a secret panel. Her curiosity turns into a full-blown panic when she discovers the painting that Marty hid was a part of the Boston’s Gardner Museum Heist.

Karina is torn between reporting the stolen painting to the FBI and saving her boyfriend’s father. To add to this mess is Patrick – he has some surprises in store for Karina She decides to investigate the case on her own. Will it be too late before she realises that she’s being watched?

Isabella’s Painting is the first book in Karina Cardinal series. As a debut to the series, this book has its job of keeping the reader hooked on to the story.

Karina Cardinal is smart, strong and quirky. She doesn’t take a no for an answer. When she finds out the stolen painting, she makes a choice – a choice that will put her life in danger. Her boyfriend Patrick is selfish, possessive and oozes of jealousy. (I am calling him selfish here because Karina’s dad falls sick and it’s Christmas Eve. But all Patrick thinks about is Karina missing on the family dinner with his family! Duh!!!)

Karina’s sister Jillian is no different. When she realises that her sister is in trouble, she is ready to do anything – just say the word, I have a shovel in my car! 😀 From playing evil to innocent, Marty turned out to be quite a character. And of course, how can I not talk about Mike Finnegan?! The FBI Agent/ Karina’s best friend! I am keeping the best for the last. Although these guys make an appearance at almost the end of the story, they do play an important role in Diamonds and Deceptions (Book #3).

The amount of research that Butler has put into this story is appreciable. I did not know about the Boston Gardner Museum Heist. But the curious me did some googling after reading this story. The stolen art that was recovered by Karina in this story is The Concert by Vermeer.

The ideas are well developed and the mystery is well-maintained throughout the story. Although the ending was not as I expected it to be, I liked it. Rick, Joshua and Jin made an appearance so why wouldn’t I like it??!! 😉 I read Diamonds and Deception first and I absolutely loved it! So, if I have to compare it to this book, I would say Isabella’s Painting is a little low on the action and adventure. But, given that this is a debut to the series and enormous amounts of research done to write this book, I did not really mind the less action and adventure.

I do recommend this book. The other books in this series are excellent too. If you like books of the genre mystery then you must check out Isabella’s Painting.




Writing Style: 4.5/5

Plot/Story: 4/5

Character Development: 4.5/5

Ending: 4/5


Overall Rating: 4.5/5




Title: Isabella’s Painting (Karina Cardinal Mystery #1)

Author: Ellen Butler

Published on: 2nd May 2018

Genre: Mystery

Purchase Links: | Book Depository



I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

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