Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Noah Charney - The Art Thief

Rome: In the small Baroque church of Santa Giuliana, a magnificent Caravaggio altarpiece disappears without a trace in the middle of the night. Paris: In the basement vault of the Malevich Society, curator Genevieve Delacloche is shocked to discover the disappearance of the Society's greatest treasure, White-on-White by Suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich. London: At the National Gallery of Modern Art, the museum's latest acquisition is stolen just hours after it was purchased for more than six million pounds. In The Art Thief, three thefts are simultaneously investigated in three cities, but these apparently isolated crimes have much more in common than anyone imagines. In Rome, the police enlist the help of renowned art investigator Gabriel Coffin when tracking down the stolen masterpiece. In Paris, Genevieve Delacloche is aided by Police Inspector Jean-Jacques Bizot, who finds a trail of bizarre clues and puzzles that leads him ever deeper into a baffling conspiracy. In London, Inspector Harry Wickenden of Scotland Yard oversees the museum's attempts to ransom back its stolen painting, only to have the masterpiece's recovery deepen the mystery even further. A dizzying array of forgeries, overpaintings, and double-crosses unfolds as the story races through auction houses, museums, and private galleries -- and the secret places where priceless works of art are made available to collectors who will stop at nothing to satisfy their hearts' desires.

Comment: I've purchased and read this book for one of my book clubs. I didn't even know about this book's existence before said book club. I must say I also didn't vote for it. I knew it would be about art (duh) and it would be similar to books like Da Vinci Code in some things, although obviously not the same. They just had the art and the mystery part in common.
So, I really didn't have any major influence before starting it.
It begun very boring. It took me three days to force myself to focus and read it properly because everything around me was a distraction, the book just wasn't captivating me. But I had more books to read and I spent a couple of hours forcing myself past the pages that were blocking me.
The book is very centered in the mystery of some missing paintings and we get to follow several characters throughout their steps and clues to find them. In the middle of all this we have some interesting information about art, paintings, motivations, artistic motivations, descriptions, and so on and for me that was the best part, because I have to be honest, the mystery part was boring, boring, boring.

This is the author's first (and only, so far) book and I guess we notice it in the way the characters seem to lack some things in their traits and how faraway they seem and even more in how the end is done, I mean, if all mystery books were like this no one would like them after the first two or three. The end was poorly done, in my opinion. Not the end itself, but the whys of it, very amateur, very obvious, the intent to be a surprise too forced.

Then there's the author's style...well he would stop what was happening to show us another scene/character's actions and it got very annoying to have the narrative interrupted all the time.
I also think the way he wrote didn't made the reader feel that much empathy towards the characters, they feel very distant to me.

So, in the end, this book was ok for the art content, for the interesting takes on that world, but in terms of plot, I don't think it was that good. He does know what he's talking about and this is a first book, but still...too many boring and uninterested moments to be a fully enjoyable story.

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