The Art Thief by Noah Charney
Mystery; 290 pgs (ARE)
First Sentence: It was almost as if she were waiting, hanging there, in the painted darkness.
Reason for Reading: Of the three Simon & Schuster selections that I recently received in the mail, this one sounded the most interesting to me. I am just about always ready to read a mystery novel.
Comments: Father Amoroso is awakened at 3:15 in the morning and again just after 4 a.m. to what appears to be false alarms at Santa Giuliana church in Italy. When he opens the church at 8 a.m. the next morning, the Caravaggio altarpiece is missing. Meanwhile, Genevieve Delacloche of the Malevich Society in France discovers that a famous Kasimir Malevich painting is missing from the basement vault. Not too long after, two paintings similar to the one stolen in France, disappear in London, one from a museum and the other from a private citizen.
Art investigator Gabriel Coffin is drawn into the investigations of the stolen paintings, his knowledge and skill proving to be invaluable to the authorities assigned the cases. Could these seemingly independent thefts be related? Is the culprit a part of a crime syndicate or instead an art aficionado?
Author Noah Charney's knowledge of art history and art crime is evident throughout the novel. He crams quite a bit of information into the mystery novel and for the most part succeeds at avoiding making it seem like homework, his wit and presentation doing the trick.
The Art Thief is full of colorful characters, each with their own quirks. It takes some mental focus to avoid getting tangled in among the many different story threads and characters. Unfortunately, with so many characters, it was hard to get to know any of them too well. Though perhaps this helped in keeping the reader at a distance from what would come. When the pieces begin to come together and the stories begin to overlap, it is in surprising twists that even I did not completely see coming.
The Art Thief offers suspense, mystery and intrigue, taking readers on a tour of the art world and the crimes therein. It is a fast paced and enjoyable novel that will keep readers entertained and wondering what will happen next.
Favorite Part: Dr. Barrow’s classes in the museum were by far my favorite part. I kept wishing he had been my art history professor in college.
Check out the author's website for more information about his book and other projects.