Lead White

How many lives does a painting worth millions require before it reveals its secrets?

  • Winner of Best Crime Fiction Novel 2020
  • We recommend this novel to the fans of Dan Brown, John Le Carré and Umberto Eco

Axel Wallas is a Finnish painter and Caravaggio expert, who is asked by a professor of art history to advise on a painting that may be a masterpiece of Caravaggio himself. Axel is unable to give a definite answer on the painting’s authenticity.

The next morning the professor is found murdered and the painting is gone. Axel embarks on a journey where nothing is what it seems. Unexpectedly, Axel’s wife has also failed to return from her work trip in Rome and has left no clue as to where she is. Are the cases related? Axel travels to Italy in search of his spouse, but finds himself in the middle of a devastating power struggle. Will the trails lead to the real painting and to the revealing of the Caravaggio mystery?


“Erra masters magnificently the literary chiaroscuro, the contrast between light and shadow. The expertise on art history in Lead White convinces the reader. After reading the book, even the casual museum visitor will start looking not only at the pictorial motif but also at the harmony of different colour layers with keener eyes. Like in his earlier books, the depiction of the surroundings is splendid. The alleys, museums, and palaces are painted with considered strokes.” –Mika Rissanen, Kouvolan Sanomat Newspaper

“This art detective thriller that is constructed around the masterpiece by Michelangelo Caravaggio moves fluidly forward like an Italian little criminal on his scooter. The twists and turns are swift and the plot as intricate as the Sicilian courtly etiquette; yet the tranquil pace of the narration allows the reader to stay on board. –Ali Heikkilä, KMV Magazine

“Jyrki Erra’s third thriller strengthens his position as a noteworthy suspense novelist. Erra has made diligent background work which brings a sense of fullness and care. The book is also in a way down to earth throughout which is not that usual in the modern suspense genre. Lead White is not for the reader who looks for speed, sex and danger. The latter it is brimming with but the upmost impression is a sense of offering something refined, a desire to pass on something else to the reader than mere smooth entertainment.” – Pertti Avola, Helsingin Sanomat Newspaper