Brushstrokes from the Past | A Thrilling WWII Historical Art Mystery from Heidi Eljarbo

Brushstrokes from the Past
The Soli Hansen Mysteries
Heidi Eljarbo
WWII and the mid-seventeenth century are entwined in this fourth dual timeline novel about Nazi art theft, bravery, friendship, and romance.
April 1945. Art historian Soli Hansen and her friend Heddy arrive at an excavation site only to find Soli’s old archeology professor deeply engrossed in an extraordinary find in a marsh. The remains of a man have lain undisturbed for three centuries, but there’s more to this discovery…
As Soli tries to understand who the baroque man was and discovers what he carried in a sealed wooden tube, problems arise. A leak reveals the finds to the notorious Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Walter, and soon, both Nazi elite and the Gestapo are after the treasure.
When Heddy and the professor disappear along with the artwork, Soli and her resistance group must find them before it’s too late.
1641. In Amsterdam, French musketeer Claude Beaulieu has had his portrait done by his close friend and artist Rembrandt van Rijn. When a band of thieves steal the precious painting, Claude and his wife Annarosa Ruber pick up their swords and a few belongings and go after the culprits.
Set in Norway during the tumultuous last days of the second world war, as well as the peak of the glorious baroque art period, these two stories are a must for readers who love historical fiction with adventure, suspense, and true love that conquers all.
Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, Kathleen McGurl, Rhys Bowen, and Katherine Neville.
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Enjoy an Excerpt
Safely home, Soli plonked down on the couch. She had no idea where the Rembrandt musketeer painting was. But more troublesome than that, where were Professor Holst and Heddy?
Soli had expected a note from her friend, some sign that she’d been by. Maybe Heddy would show up later, but after an hour’s waiting there was still nothing.
Soli pulled her feet up on the couch and hugged her legs. Oh, that this day were over and done. What was she to do? Where could she start looking for Holst and Heddy? Were the two even connected? That would be strange, but at this point, anything was possible.
Having the painting disappear so quickly left her with a knot in her stomach. That lovely Rembrandt rendition, flawless and precious. Oh, that she had it in her secret chamber in the basement right now. She’d go downstairs and study it for hours, putting herself in the master painter’s time, imagining what it was like in Rembrandt’s studio with the handsome, French musketeer modelling for his portrait.
Startled by a sound, Soli put her feet on the floor and sat up straight. Someone was at the back door. Two knocks twice. Only her friends at the secret art club or Nikolai rapped like that. She quickly went to answer.
“Oh, Nikolai.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him inside. “I’m so glad you’re here. I spent the evening with Professor Holst’s wife, and she hadn’t heard from her husband since yesterday morning. The painting is gone. And Heddy…where is she?”
“Come sit.” He seated himself on the sofa and patted the next cushion. “Birger and Arvid haven’t heard anything either.”
She settled next to him. “You look serious, Nikolai. What do you know?”
“Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Walter has returned.”
“No. Not this, as well. Why can’t that horrible man just stay in Germany?”
“He travels to find art pieces. Every time he thinks he has discovered something of value here, he shows up, bringing death and fear with him.”
“I hoped I never had to face him again.”
“Well, I think you should prepare yourself. Walter will most likely speak with the different gallery owners and art connoisseurs like yourself. He usually does.”
Soli sighed. “I can’t close the shop and run off every time he comes.”
“Tempting as that sounds, it would look suspicious.” Nikolai paused for a moment, resting his deep-blue eyes on her. “There’s more,” he said. “One of my men spotted the lieutenant colonel on the street outside Professor Holst’s office early this morning.”
Soli frowned. “How early?”
“Before we arrived.”
Soli jumped up and started pacing the room. “But that could mean…no…oh, Nikolai, did he see anything else?”
Nikolai shook his head. “Only that a car drove up and stopped by the entrance. Walter and a couple of his men walked into the building. My officer was on his way to work and didn’t think more about it at the time. My man had no idea what Walter was after. He only mentioned it in a briefing we had later this afternoon.”
“And you had to keep calm about the incident?”
“Yes, and it’s a struggle every day. Since the German occupants seized our police headquarters, they’ve arrested countless Norwegians for disobedience to the new regime. Even British citizens suspected of being secret agents have been incarcerated in the prison behind the office building. We can house about one hundred and fifty people there, but I’ve seen as many as five hundred or more crammed into the cells.” He grunted. “I need to lead my men by obeying the German regulations. The police force at 19 Moller Street is a combination of Nazi supporters and true Norwegians—not that they speak about it—but after working with them for years, I’ve learned to read which side they’re on.”
Soli touched his cheek. “You live a dangerous life, Nikolai Lange. You attend special events arranged by the Gestapo and leaders of the Nazi party, and in between, you’re collaborating with the resistance. How do you do it? You must be a great actor.”
He flashed that special smile that always made her knees go weak. “I don’t think Hollywood is ready for me, but I admit it takes a lot of concentration keeping the two roles separate and distinct. Fortunately, I’ve managed so far.”
“But it’s not safe.”
He shrugged. “Says you. The work you, Heddy, and the boys do is no walk in the park, either.” His face turned serious. “What are we going to do about Walter?”

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don’t want to go near.
Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.
After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.
Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.
Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.
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