A smart, intellectual mystery set in Europe and starring the members of the Italian art theft and forgery division and a British graduate student in art history. Well formed plot, well written. Characters nicely developed. Not gory, light romantic interest, interesting topic.
This was the first installment of what was to become Iain Pears' "Art History Mystery" series, of which, including this one, I've now read, um, 5 out of 7, I think. I really hope he does more in the series - there hasn't been a new one in 6 years, and it seems like Pears has been concentrating more on his 'serious' writing - which, if 'The Dream of Scipio' is to judge by, I don't enjoy as much. But - I've still got two more to go, before withdrawal really sets in!
I didn't really feel like my enjoyment of this story was spoiled by having already read later stories - rather, I was entertained by the younger and less experienced versions of the characters, and seeing how the author had initially introduced them (a couple of surprises!)
As always, Pears shows that he knows his art history, and, as I work in a museum, I found the depictions of museum politics quite amusing.
As far as the story goes - this mystery has to do with a young art history grad student who believes that he's discovered a long-lost secret - an unassuming work by a mediocre painter may hide beneath its layers of paint a masterpiece by Raphael. Howeve, a savvy dealer snatches the work virtually from under his nose, and soon enough trots out a Raphael, with enough fanfare to let it sell for an astounding price. But is the masterpiece real, or a clever fake? It may take General Bottando, of the Art Crimes Unit, and his young part-time assistant, Flavia, to figure it out...
If you like art history, you'll enjoy this book. It's the first of a series set in Rome and London featuring Jonathan Argyll, a London-based art dealer, and several of the staff of the Italian National Art Theft Squad based in Rome. Lots of juicy inside details about the art world, art theft and fraud...and the author paints a vivid picture of several European cities that makes you want to hop on a plane and go there! I've already read a couple more in this series and they get better and better--but for a first book, this is an excellent beginning.
very different, interesting, mystery, will look for more!
If museum trips bore you and art is of no interest whatsoever, this isn't the mystery for you. But if a week in Rome is your idea of heaven and you'd be enthralled by the paintings, the churches, and the dining, this is a mystery you've been waiting to read. It has all the classic whodunit elements, the story moves quickly, and the information about the science of art forgery, painlessly revealed, is fascinating. The characters introduced are charming and quirky not the cliches many mystery authors indulge in. It's not surprising this became a popular series for Iain Pears.
Great book! The kind that you can't put down. Combines art history and Italy -- what could be better?
light-hearted fun by a master storyteller. the first Jonathan Argyll mystery!
This book has interesting facts about the artist Raphael and the artistry of his times. Although a mytery, it was very slow moving.
First in the series of clever art history thrillers. A Jonathan Argyll mystery.
First in the Jonathan art detective serties
The first in the Art History series.
See review for this series under title "The Immaculate Deception" by the same author.