This was the best mystery novel I've read in a very long time. It was MUCH better than either the Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons. (I may not be an art restorer, but as far as I noticed, at least nothing in Pears' background [the Italian art world] was WRONG!)
The Art Theft Squad has received an anonymous tip that a small monastery in Rome may soon be the victim of a heist - but their only valuable painting (a Caravaggio of doubtful provenance) is currently under restoration by an art restorer of dubious reputation. Still, the police warn the monks (who are in the midst of an internal political struggle) to be careful... but soon, an elderly member of the community is found coshed in the head... and of course, an artwork is missing....
The team of Flavia, Italian Art Theft Squad officer, and her boyfriend, academic art historian Jonathan Argyll, works well, and all the characters - even the villains - were colorful, reasonably well-rounded, interesting characters.
But I was most impressed by the plot - a steady tension was kept up - it kept taking unexpected turns, revealing new layers of deception and new motivations for nearly everyone involved.... some things I really feared/expected would happen didn't - but what did happen all made sense.... (I hate it when, in a mystery, something is revealed, and you're just like, "What? Where did THAT come from? You didn't give me ANY clues!")
Is the huge and disturbing painting in the monastery, supposedly by Caravaggio, the target of theft?