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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 Genevi - ve Delacloche is shocked to discover the disappearance of the Society's greatest treasure, White-on-White by Suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich. London: At the 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 Genevi - ve 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, Genevi - ve 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. Full of fascinating art-historical detail, crackling dialogue, and a brain-teasing plot, Noah Charney's debut novel is a sophisticated, stylish thriller, as irresistible and multifaceted as a great work of art.


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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 Genevi - ve Delacloche is shocked to discover the disappearance of the Society's greatest treasure, White-on-White by Suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich. London: At the 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 Genevi - ve 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, Genevi - ve 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. Full of fascinating art-historical detail, crackling dialogue, and a brain-teasing plot, Noah Charney's debut novel is a sophisticated, stylish thriller, as irresistible and multifaceted as a great work of art.

30 review for The Art Thief

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    The author (a term I use loosely) should stick to his day job - although in reading his profile, I believe he may not have one!!! Did this man have an editor? He acknowledges one at the close. If indeed an editor exists with respect to the compilation of this book, perhaps he/she could have borrowed the author's thesaurus. A sample of editorial comments could then have included such notes as this: "Mr. Charney, It is with most unfeigned sincerity that I present you with these palaverous, verbose, The author (a term I use loosely) should stick to his day job - although in reading his profile, I believe he may not have one!!! Did this man have an editor? He acknowledges one at the close. If indeed an editor exists with respect to the compilation of this book, perhaps he/she could have borrowed the author's thesaurus. A sample of editorial comments could then have included such notes as this: "Mr. Charney, It is with most unfeigned sincerity that I present you with these palaverous, verbose, turgid and simultaneously inflated comments with respect to your recent exertion into the venturous world of the inaugurate compendium. Without pretense, I found this tome to be a morsel of detritus, often exhibiting grandiose shades of illogicality, incongruity, flap-doodle and above all else, bunkum. Strictly speaking, for those who prefer a little less loquaciousness, Your book is crap! Please refrain from any future contact, we shall summon you if the need arises." When, oh when, will I learn? Repeat after me, if the book is a complete and utter waste of your time - simply put it down, back away and no one will get hurt!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Roberta

    The Art Thief is an amateurish novel that lectures against romanticizing art theft while doing exactly that. The author is described in publicity material as the founding director of an international think tank on art crime with a board of trustees that “includes the respective art squad heads of the FBI, Carabinieri, and Scotland Yard, as well as renowned museum, art world, and criminology specialists.” They may not have read his novel. The book is populated with slapstick national stereotypes The Art Thief is an amateurish novel that lectures against romanticizing art theft while doing exactly that. The author is described in publicity material as the founding director of an international think tank on art crime with a board of trustees that “includes the respective art squad heads of the FBI, Carabinieri, and Scotland Yard, as well as renowned museum, art world, and criminology specialists.” They may not have read his novel. The book is populated with slapstick national stereotypes and Keystone Cops. The bumbling hugely obese French detective of the Sûreté stops to indulge his gourmandise on the way to crime scenes and is almost too fat to see the clues. The depressed, poorly dressed working-class British art crimes detective “can’t tell a Degas from a Manet from a fancy I-don’t-know-what” but has solved all his cases. Other characters include aristocrats with exquisite taste taking to crime to save their castles and the artwork within, corrupt museum officials, giggling students, and great Latin lovers. The female professionals in security, museum management, and crime all have gorgeous breasts. Despite the lectures the author provides on how art theft is funding the drug trade and terrorism, the thieves, motivated by love, loss, and a sense of fairness, are the only characters not mocked or stereotyped. The moral of the story: “Trust in thieves.” Charney thanks his editors in the acknowledgements but apparently no one actually edited the writing. The descriptive writing is filled with the sorts of errors identified and (one hopes) corrected in introductory creative writing courses or by basic editing. I am still trying to make sense of some of the more egregious problems: spotlights that illuminate spaces “vicariously,” people who “reflect thoughtlessly,” academic halls decorated with “pendulous portraits” (shades of Dalí) and the façade of a building that “clung up… along the narrow street.” An attentive editor should have noticed these and other awkward uses of language.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This was just painful. What started out as somewhat interesting factoids about art history and art theft turned into patronizing speeches by so-called characters in this book. I admit to skipping about 50 pages in the middle, with absolutely no detriment to the plot. Stolen canvases, auctions at Christie's, paintings hidden under other art, it all seemed so promising.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Yikes. If I could have give this book no stars or half a star I would have... I picked this book up for all the wrong reasons and I paid for it. The only part I liked about the book was the background discussion on art and the great artists (and the description of the great meals the two french characters kept eating!); otherwise, the plot, the characters, the narrative, and the ending (ugh!) were horrid. Entirely unsatisfying. The author is so self-indulgent in this book. He obviously wrote himsel Yikes. If I could have give this book no stars or half a star I would have... I picked this book up for all the wrong reasons and I paid for it. The only part I liked about the book was the background discussion on art and the great artists (and the description of the great meals the two french characters kept eating!); otherwise, the plot, the characters, the narrative, and the ending (ugh!) were horrid. Entirely unsatisfying. The author is so self-indulgent in this book. He obviously wrote himself into the book as one of the main character- that much is clear. His character development stinks -- and the dialogue! Ugh - the dialogue was the most frustrating of all... He has all his characters speak in half french (which I know) and Italian and half in English - to each other! It's completely maddening and makes no sense. Why would two french characters speak in half french and english to one another? It seems like he's just trying to show off (by proof of his bio) how worldly and trilingual he is... I can't believe I even bothered to finish the book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This book is essentially a mystery, a genre that I am rather unqualified to rate appropriately. Overall, I think the mystery aspect of the book was entertaining and not overtly obvious, so probably successful. More than that, however, I adored this book. It is easily one of the best I have read. Of course, all of my reasons are selfish and probably not applicable to most people. This book appealed to all of my favorite things. It made me feel smart. Scattered, untranslated phrases in French and It This book is essentially a mystery, a genre that I am rather unqualified to rate appropriately. Overall, I think the mystery aspect of the book was entertaining and not overtly obvious, so probably successful. More than that, however, I adored this book. It is easily one of the best I have read. Of course, all of my reasons are selfish and probably not applicable to most people. This book appealed to all of my favorite things. It made me feel smart. Scattered, untranslated phrases in French and Italian made sense to me. Of course they were simple, conversational terms, but I was proud of my ability to read them. That being said, I think most of them could be understood in the context of the book without being able to translate them, so I hope no one is turned off by that. There are truly very few sentences in the book that are not in English, and none of them contain major plot secrets, so you would miss nothing even if you ignored them completely. For me, though, it was a satisfying discovery that I could translate them. The art works mentioned in the book brought to mind specific mental pictures for me. I loved the chance to flip through my mental art rolodex, and this reminded me exactly how much I love art history. I am newly motivated to continue pursuing an art historical graduate education in some sense. Overall, this book made me feel good about me. It's not really meant to do so, but it appealed to all of the things I am proud of, and so gave me a better sense of my own academic ability and worth.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gerald

    Noah Charney is a professor of art history and an expert in fine art forgery and theft. And in this novel he proves himself to be a sly spinner of detective yarn. The Art Thief is a tale of brain-teasing complexity involving multiple, interconnected forgeries and thefts of historic paintings from several institutions. And its resolution necessarily involves multiple detectives and forensic experts, each as colorful and eccentric in his own way as Inspector Clouseau. The victims – museum curators Noah Charney is a professor of art history and an expert in fine art forgery and theft. And in this novel he proves himself to be a sly spinner of detective yarn. The Art Thief is a tale of brain-teasing complexity involving multiple, interconnected forgeries and thefts of historic paintings from several institutions. And its resolution necessarily involves multiple detectives and forensic experts, each as colorful and eccentric in his own way as Inspector Clouseau. The victims – museum curators and aristo collectors – are a classier bunch who tend to both snobbery and hypocrisy – not the most admirable human beings. Classiest of all are the scheming thieves and forgers. You see, in today’s genre fiction, perpetrators of these presumably victimless crimes against the upper class have the cachet of winners at Wimbledon. Well played, chaps! In a previous generation, this place of honor was held by jewel thieves who connived to execute intricately plotted heists. Remember Cary Grant – never more dashing than in his role as John Robie in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief? Or Melina Mercouri and her artful crew in Topkapi? Along the way, Prof. Charney is going to teach you a lot about art history and criticism. And that’s even if you consider yourself well versed. He’s never happier or more entertaining than when his donnish characters tear off on rants to their dunderhead students about how to study paintings. Here’s an example. His Professor Barrow pontificates: “I speak of observation, looking in order to gather information, rather than merely looking. Look deeper. Observation followed by logical deduction leads to solution. You shall see.” And isn’t this just what the reader of a detective story must learn to do? Observe and deduce? The Art Thief is great fun, but my advice would be to keep a scratchpad handy. The plots, the players, the crosses and the double-crosses are so intertwined you’ll want to make a diagram to keep track. (Charney's latest is nonfiction on his favorite subject - The Art of Forgery: The Minds, Motives and Methods of the Master Forgers.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vulva

    I began reading this book, positive that I was going to hate it. I come from the Art History field, and you'd be surprised how many people just massacre art works with false information, or far-fetched ideas (Da Vinci Code, anyone?). I was surprised to find accurate interpretations and readings; from an Art History point of view, all of his information was spot-on, and I couldn't help but smile at his various bits of information thrown in there. That being said, the book built some momentum, and t I began reading this book, positive that I was going to hate it. I come from the Art History field, and you'd be surprised how many people just massacre art works with false information, or far-fetched ideas (Da Vinci Code, anyone?). I was surprised to find accurate interpretations and readings; from an Art History point of view, all of his information was spot-on, and I couldn't help but smile at his various bits of information thrown in there. That being said, the book built some momentum, and then sat idly, stuck at one place, coming apart, slowly, as though Charney had mysteriously stuck his plot in molasses. And then it is as though he thought to himself, "Oops! Only only 10 pages left to write! Must work everything out!" and solved his mystery in short, incestuous paragraphs. Despite whatever literary shortcomings the book may have, it lived up to its purpose: it was a good read, historically accurate, and very entertaining. I wonder if it is as enjoyable for those who do not have an Art History background; perhaps this is an introductory novel to the world of art?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ross Cavins

    Could not finish. This book is too bloated with facts and "as you know Bob"s ... I care nothing for the characters because there are approximately 342 of them. Plus, after reading all the hooty-tooty art stuff that the author just had to prove he knew, that picture of him on the back of the book makes me want to punch him in his high-class artsy-fartsy nose. If I wanted to be subjected to lecture after lecture of dry facts, I'd go back to school. Seriously, in the small portion of the book I could Could not finish. This book is too bloated with facts and "as you know Bob"s ... I care nothing for the characters because there are approximately 342 of them. Plus, after reading all the hooty-tooty art stuff that the author just had to prove he knew, that picture of him on the back of the book makes me want to punch him in his high-class artsy-fartsy nose. If I wanted to be subjected to lecture after lecture of dry facts, I'd go back to school. Seriously, in the small portion of the book I could get through, there were at least ten 2-page soliloquies of one character talking non-stop. One of the "speeches" was 6 pages long of a college professor giving a lecture. What? I thought I could get through the book on the premise of learning something factual about the art world I didn't know, which could be good for me. But the book came across as pompous, written so the author could show off his knowledge, and not to entertain the reader. Yep, just changed my 2-star rating to a 1-star ... looked at his picture again.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne (Fiction Books)

    “Great suspense and attention to detail, although some genre confusion” Well! where to start with this review ? … I guess this is one of the best examples I have come across, of why book reviewing can be such a subjective process and so personal to the reviewer. ‘The Art Thief’ has received some very mixed reviews, not all of which have been objective, or even particularly pleasant to read, if you were author, Noah Charney. Nonetheless, if they are comments which indicate the true feelings and thou “Great suspense and attention to detail, although some genre confusion” Well! where to start with this review ? … I guess this is one of the best examples I have come across, of why book reviewing can be such a subjective process and so personal to the reviewer. ‘The Art Thief’ has received some very mixed reviews, not all of which have been objective, or even particularly pleasant to read, if you were author, Noah Charney. Nonetheless, if they are comments which indicate the true feelings and thoughts of their authors, then they should be respected and considered. Personally, I did have one or two reservations about the book … Namely that the paperback edition I read from, had print so small that I almost needed a magnifying glass to see it, consequently it seemed to take forever to read and was not quite as absorbing as it might have otherwise been … Also, at one point, just a few pages in, I felt so bogged down by art terminology and description, that I did wonder if I would be able to finish reading, if the remainder of the story was written in the same vein … Boy am I glad I did! I really enjoyed it! …. The background detail was actually brilliant. I learned more about art history and art crime, than I would have thought possible from a work of fiction. The book raised some serious questions about morality and crime, with some great insights into the slightly seedy underworld dealings of international art thieves. Perhaps some aspects of art theft may have a little romanticised for the purposes of the story, but read between the lines, scratch a little beneath the surface and the true ‘grubby’ nature of the crimes and the perpetrators, are clearly described in meticulous detail. Also, given that this crime involved three simultaneous lines of enquiry, in England, France and Italy, perhaps a little romantic license is permissible. As the story was written from so many different points of view, far from feeling overwhelmed, I felt a great affinity with the characters by the end of the book, as both the physical and emotional details about the main players was so well documented. Noah had gathered together, what would seem at first glance, a more diverse, quirky and ill-matched assortment of crime solvers, than you could ever wish to meet and yet somehow, it worked beautifully. The synergy between these slightly competing factions, was at times difficult to keep up with and yes! perhaps some of the characters were a bit larger than life and possibly more suited to a ‘mystery caper’, rather than a serious mystery enquiry. Taking just one of the characters and making that person the focal element of an investigation, would probably help in the development of a successful serious series, if that’s where Noah anticipates taking his work. There were more intriguing bluffs and double-bluffs, than you would have thought possible in one case, with twists in the plot coming thick and fast. I would have said that overall, the book put more emphasis on the chase than the crime, making it a real edge of the seat read, with the final, surprising, sting in the tail being saved until the very last page. With an end as complicated as it was surprising and which left me still wondering whether everyone had really got what they deserved, yet somehow satisfied with the outcome. Noah Charney is certainly one author who writes about what he knows best and is clearly passionate about both his work and writing. Whilst this obviously shines through in the authenticity and detail he adds to the premise of what could have been a five star crime story, I have this niggling worry that the balance just wasn’t quite right somehow … Perhaps it was just a little too complicated, as if Noah had tried to include too many points of information, almost wishing that he had made himself one of the characters assigned to solving the case. I still think that ‘The Art Thief’ was a 4 star read, because for me personally, all the ingredients of an interesting and unique crime series are there, it is simply a question of getting the balance of the ingredients right and for Noah to nail down whereabouts in the marketplace he is aiming to position his fiction writing, to make it as successful as the many non-fiction papers and books he has authored. Full review post can be read here ... http://www.fiction-books.biz/reviews/...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Keeley

    I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was well written and the plot was thick and vibrant. The end completely caught me by surprise, I never guessed who the bad guys were. But the end was cut too short. I am still trying to piece together all that happened. I was really dissappointed by the amount of f-words the author used. I think it shows a lack of intelligence and creativity that all they can do is profane left and right. It was a huge problem for me. But I looked past that to see how I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was well written and the plot was thick and vibrant. The end completely caught me by surprise, I never guessed who the bad guys were. But the end was cut too short. I am still trying to piece together all that happened. I was really dissappointed by the amount of f-words the author used. I think it shows a lack of intelligence and creativity that all they can do is profane left and right. It was a huge problem for me. But I looked past that to see how he would pull it all together. Then the ending just left me with questions. So I'm still trying to decide if I liked it or not.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ben Babcock

    Noah Charney knows a lot about art. His writing, however, leaves much to be desired. The book improved much throughout the course of the story. It started out as an uninteresting, rather dull story with disparate characters. Charney employs some rather unusual metaphors and descriptive phrases. At the very end of the story, when all is revealed and the mystery solved, one can look back and say, "Oh yes, this all comes together, how interesting." Unfortunately, in order to get to that point, the re Noah Charney knows a lot about art. His writing, however, leaves much to be desired. The book improved much throughout the course of the story. It started out as an uninteresting, rather dull story with disparate characters. Charney employs some rather unusual metaphors and descriptive phrases. At the very end of the story, when all is revealed and the mystery solved, one can look back and say, "Oh yes, this all comes together, how interesting." Unfortunately, in order to get to that point, the reader must first slog through several chapters' worth of art history and Da Vinci-code-style puzzle pieces. Now, don't get me wrong. I like art, and I like art history. Charney clearly knows what he's talking about, but that's the problem--he is so passionate about his subject that he lectures, through his characters, far too much. While I normally enjoy learning fun facts from fiction, in this case, it breaks up the pacing of the story. And what was with the random French and Italian sprinkled among the conversations? Yes, it is very nice that you know French and Italian (or know people who can help you translate it). But I already feel like you're bludgeoning me with a pretentious headstone of knowledge. This multilingual dialogue is just too much. The Art Thief is a satisfactory mystery if you can stomach the ultra-intellectual cruft packed around the nugget of story goodness. If you are more into mysteries--or even art--than I am, you may enjoy it more. I wouldn't rush out to buy it though.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim Leckband

    "Sunlight dipped toward the horizon, over pencil-sketch trees calligraphed into the impossible blue of the sky, tinged a burnt scarlet. The moon was already aloft, its craterous yin-yang hanging in the premature daylit night." Whaaa? "Delacloche and Bizot, like an icicle and the puddle below it, stepped out of the elevator, behind a bank clerk. She led them past a security guard, and through an iron gate, along a faded mint-green-carpeted hall, through smells of must and musk and dust, and dusk s "Sunlight dipped toward the horizon, over pencil-sketch trees calligraphed into the impossible blue of the sky, tinged a burnt scarlet. The moon was already aloft, its craterous yin-yang hanging in the premature daylit night." Whaaa? "Delacloche and Bizot, like an icicle and the puddle below it, stepped out of the elevator, behind a bank clerk. She led them past a security guard, and through an iron gate, along a faded mint-green-carpeted hall, through smells of must and musk and dust, and dusk slowly rose outside the barred windows." Leckband, like a horned-toad and the ant hill below it, ejected out of the novel yet again by execrable writing, blood slowly squirting from his eyes, plodded through the 290 pages of this wreck. Fortunately Charney does not try to write too often so that you can concentrate on the characters. Wait, I used the plural. I should say "character", because they all talk the same, use the same frat-boy sarcastic tone and all use "I don't give a flying fuck" as their vulgarity of choice. Well, they say write what you know. And the plot? Apparently there were some paintings that were stolen and re-stolen and painted over and copied and smuggled and auctioned and were the subject of the most Dan Brown'ed dialogue since Dan Brown.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    Mixed reviews. The info on the art world was great fun. Icons, symbols, art theft, history of paints, etc. - all fascinating. The plot was convoluted and the characters okay. If you enjoy fine art and a peek behind the scenes, you'd probably enjoy this book. There are lots of twists and turns.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    An intriguing art mystery. A grand list of quirky characters: detectives (one a lot like Lt. Columbo), art professors, art gallery curators, professors, art experts. This is the art underworld of fakers, forges and thieves. Three paintings are stolen, disguised and auctioned off. Eventually one is found abandoned in a warehouse and one at a flea market. The plot is complicated and the mystery and motives somewhat implausible. The book is written from about a dozen points of view so it is often c An intriguing art mystery. A grand list of quirky characters: detectives (one a lot like Lt. Columbo), art professors, art gallery curators, professors, art experts. This is the art underworld of fakers, forges and thieves. Three paintings are stolen, disguised and auctioned off. Eventually one is found abandoned in a warehouse and one at a flea market. The plot is complicated and the mystery and motives somewhat implausible. The book is written from about a dozen points of view so it is often confusing to know who’s on first and exactly what painting is disguised as what other painting and who knows about it? You’d have to re-read the book it to figure it all out. Still, this book is a good read with charming eccentric characters and you learn a lot about art through the ramblings of the art professors. And you learn a lot about the art underworld including speculation on Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katy-Del

    The overall heist story, I found that interesting. But I really didn't like the lectures I was forced to wade through to get to the plot. Every character with the least bit of knowlege about art, has to expound at length, and I just found myself skimming and skipping these pages. Which is strange, because the subjects they lectured about are ones I find interesting and ones that I have read about in non-fiction, but I was totally uninterested in them in the way they were presented here. Noah Cha The overall heist story, I found that interesting. But I really didn't like the lectures I was forced to wade through to get to the plot. Every character with the least bit of knowlege about art, has to expound at length, and I just found myself skimming and skipping these pages. Which is strange, because the subjects they lectured about are ones I find interesting and ones that I have read about in non-fiction, but I was totally uninterested in them in the way they were presented here. Noah Charney should decied if he wants to teach about art (art history, art forgery, iconology...) or does he want to entertain with plot. The two didn't mix well for me. Maybe listening to it would have beenbetter than reading it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie H.

    Three seemingly unrelated art thefts in Rome, Paris, and London are deftly interwoven. Character development and dialogue are first-rate, as are the real-world insights offered into art history and art theft. The reader is treated to an engaging story that juxtaposes the seeming iconoclasm of Malevich with the richly symbolic work of Caravaggio. While the story is fiction, the author's knowledge of the world of art crimes is first-hand. Charney is the founder of the Association for Research into Three seemingly unrelated art thefts in Rome, Paris, and London are deftly interwoven. Character development and dialogue are first-rate, as are the real-world insights offered into art history and art theft. The reader is treated to an engaging story that juxtaposes the seeming iconoclasm of Malevich with the richly symbolic work of Caravaggio. While the story is fiction, the author's knowledge of the world of art crimes is first-hand. Charney is the founder of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art. Check them out at http://www.artcrime.info And he's got other books in the works, so that's promising, too.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Mr. Charney has a degree in art history as well as being an expert in art crimes. He brings both those areas of knowledge to this book in an entertaining way. Three pieces of art are stolen under mysterious and very clever circumstances, causing both the Italian and British police and the art experts in the book to chase in circles to discover what is going on. The story was good, with a surprise (at least to me) ending but what really drove this book for me was the characters, any one of which Mr. Charney has a degree in art history as well as being an expert in art crimes. He brings both those areas of knowledge to this book in an entertaining way. Three pieces of art are stolen under mysterious and very clever circumstances, causing both the Italian and British police and the art experts in the book to chase in circles to discover what is going on. The story was good, with a surprise (at least to me) ending but what really drove this book for me was the characters, any one of which I would love to meet in real life. They were vivacious, colourful and humourous.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    The story of this book I liked - art history, foreign locations, mystery. What I didn't like was the author's tone - it's as if he was really glad to have published his book. There was just a weird overuse of language that got annoying. It would be like instead of saying "he leaned over", the author would say "he bent his torso at a forty-five degree angle..." It got annoying, but all in all, it was a nice quick read that I was happy to be occupied by for a few days.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Diane

    There were some confusing plotlines, but this is really a clever mystery!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Xanthe

    I haven't been so captivated by a book and new author for a long time. Mr. Charney gives us an education in art and thievery and morality in addition to a mystery. Much of the book is about authentication revolving around two stolen paintings White on White and Caravaggio's Annuciation - and philosophical renderings about art, what we value, what is in our museums, why collectors collect. After reading the book, I question whether all of the paintings we value in museums are authentic. And Mr. Ch I haven't been so captivated by a book and new author for a long time. Mr. Charney gives us an education in art and thievery and morality in addition to a mystery. Much of the book is about authentication revolving around two stolen paintings White on White and Caravaggio's Annuciation - and philosophical renderings about art, what we value, what is in our museums, why collectors collect. After reading the book, I question whether all of the paintings we value in museums are authentic. And Mr. Charney is quite knowledgeable, sharing with the reader his own depth and philosophy about painting. Read his bio - he is young, only 27 but has quite an educational background. The ending is not one surprise, but three - no four - oh, I have to reread the last few pages; it's that kind of book. It is a mystery involving three threads - in London, Paris and Italy. Read carefully because the surprises keep coming. After I put the book down, I am still thinking about the outcome - it's complicated and satisfying in that everyone gets what they deserve. Aside from the art itself, the cast of quirky characters is alone worth the read. The central characters are the paintings themselves but also Gabriel Coffin (don't you love the name) a bon vivant and lecturer in arts, a morose English detective in Scotland Yard's art theft department, two French gourmands whose bantering with each other (usually while eating wonderful meals) is entertaining and edifying, and an assortment of beautiful women - beautiful and intelligent. We will hear much more from this author. You readers know what a find a new author is - and this is one of those finds. Read it. I picked it up because the cover has a Caravaggio painting - worth a peek, I thought and I was certainly right.

  21. 5 out of 5

    C.J. Shane

    The Art Thief brought forth in me a list of words beginning with “p.” Pompous. Pedantic. Predictable. Pretentious. Preposterous. Need I go on? Noah Charney’s mystery-suspense has little mystery, virtually no suspense, mostly unlikeable characters, and a sense of distaste when the last page is turned. Several art thefts that seem to be unrelated are, in fact, related. They turn out to be an elaborate plot to steal and forge paintings in order to scam a bunch of corrupt art administrators, art edu The Art Thief brought forth in me a list of words beginning with “p.” Pompous. Pedantic. Predictable. Pretentious. Preposterous. Need I go on? Noah Charney’s mystery-suspense has little mystery, virtually no suspense, mostly unlikeable characters, and a sense of distaste when the last page is turned. Several art thefts that seem to be unrelated are, in fact, related. They turn out to be an elaborate plot to steal and forge paintings in order to scam a bunch of corrupt art administrators, art educators, and art experts – all of whom deserve to be scammed. But there is no sense of justice because the thief is himself corrupt. Two points of special irritation. I am an oil painter. First, I just don’t believe the forger could do what he did in the time frame he did it using oils. The author didn’t do his homework or expected us to suspend belief. Second, the author had an annoying habit of writing some dialogue in French and Italian, not translating it, and not always making it clear from the context what was being said. It so happens that I could understand these passages. But I was offended, first, at the clear implication that if the reader could not understand the passages, then the reader is a dumb ass, and by extension, if the reader can understand them, then he’s smarter and better educated. Oh please. Second the choice of the two languages is obviously biased. I mean when you are talking about art, are Italian and French really the only languages you want to have your characters speaking? I know of a 5,000 year old culture with a very rich artistic tradition. Should I start expecting passages about art in mandarin? This book is a waste of paper and time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liz Greer

    Da Vinci Code-style art theft romp. No body count but just as many twists and turns, crosses and double crosses, although for all that it is actually a bit of a dull read. You figure out pretty early on that the fakes are real, the real ones are faked, and that most of the characters are implicated somehow. Beyond that I wasn't really bothered about exactly who what and why. It's difficult to care about the fates of characters who are frankly fairly two-dimensional, and so stereotyped it is at t Da Vinci Code-style art theft romp. No body count but just as many twists and turns, crosses and double crosses, although for all that it is actually a bit of a dull read. You figure out pretty early on that the fakes are real, the real ones are faked, and that most of the characters are implicated somehow. Beyond that I wasn't really bothered about exactly who what and why. It's difficult to care about the fates of characters who are frankly fairly two-dimensional, and so stereotyped it is at times quite painful...! All the women are buttoned-up super clever art historian types, who are naturally having lots of torrid affairs which involve them wandering around in their nightwear. The French policeman is fat and loves food and wine. The British copper is all stiff upper lip and down at heel. Like the Da Vinci Code, it also feels annoyingly like it's been written with a blockbuster film in mind. All the details are written into the dialogue, rather than being crafted into a narrative or (heaven forbid) left to the reader to infer or interpret, which makes the dialogue itself a bit forced and clunky. Overall, I read it to the end, it wasn't taxing, had some interesting insights into the art world, but I wouldn't bother reading it again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Paine

    Should have been my kind of book: a mystery about art, museums, auction houses. And there are passages that I really liked: discussions of iconography, the process of painting and how to read a painting, the value of a work of art, forgeries and provenance, art conservation. But the writing is so bad that all else pales in comparison (which makes me wonder if the passages I enjoyed, which were much better written, were regurgitated from lecture notes from the author's student days at the Courtau Should have been my kind of book: a mystery about art, museums, auction houses. And there are passages that I really liked: discussions of iconography, the process of painting and how to read a painting, the value of a work of art, forgeries and provenance, art conservation. But the writing is so bad that all else pales in comparison (which makes me wonder if the passages I enjoyed, which were much better written, were regurgitated from lecture notes from the author's student days at the Courtauld Institute). Charney tries waaaaay too hard and not only does the hard work show, he often misuses words in an apparent effort to be clever (an example of what one of my favorite high school English teachers referred to scornfully as "vivid writing"). The attempts at cleverness would have been annoying enough (almost every staircase encountered in the book was curving and was referred to as "torqued"), but the misuse of words drove me nuts: e.g. "organizations that...put money to charitable means" and "Harry craned his eyes free from their gaze" and "Harry had his coat perched through his left arm...."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    After reading two non-fiction books by Edward Dolnick, I came across this fiction book about three seemingly unrelated art thefts - a Caravaggio from a Baroque church, a Malevich from the Malevich Society, and a recent acquisition from the National Gallery. As the police and art investigators across countries track down the stolen works, they find themselves wading through museums, private galleries, and auction houses in an effort to distinguish the forgeries from the authentic. Like Dolnick, C After reading two non-fiction books by Edward Dolnick, I came across this fiction book about three seemingly unrelated art thefts - a Caravaggio from a Baroque church, a Malevich from the Malevich Society, and a recent acquisition from the National Gallery. As the police and art investigators across countries track down the stolen works, they find themselves wading through museums, private galleries, and auction houses in an effort to distinguish the forgeries from the authentic. Like Dolnick, Charney has done his homework - and throughout the story he weaves in information about how art theft is investigated, how most art thefts are accomplished, background on the relevant artists, and of particular interest to me - how auction houses operate. But, after Dolnick, I found much of the information repetitive, and the thrill of the art heist had lost some of its luster. If, however, I had come to this book pre-Dolnick, I think I would have loved it. But, as it was, I found myself getting bored. But, for folks that are still in the pre-Dolvick era, or for those who love to jump in and devour everything on a given subject, this is a worthy addition to the art heist genre.

  25. 5 out of 5

    RunRachelRun

    A very good read - I always appreciate it when an author sprinkles in another language and doesn't include the translation. Don't look at the back cover of this book - Noah just looks annoyed that you've picked up his book and that you might take it home, a home that perhaps doesn't live up to his ruthlessly thought-out self-presentation. i can't figure out who he reminds me of... In any case, smart boy who's written a pretty dandy read. I do like it that he seems to have aged his main character A very good read - I always appreciate it when an author sprinkles in another language and doesn't include the translation. Don't look at the back cover of this book - Noah just looks annoyed that you've picked up his book and that you might take it home, a home that perhaps doesn't live up to his ruthlessly thought-out self-presentation. i can't figure out who he reminds me of... In any case, smart boy who's written a pretty dandy read. I do like it that he seems to have aged his main character, Gabriel Coffin, perhaps finally someone has realized that through living life, a lot of it in a lot of places and well, can bring depth and insight. Of course, being a complete Francophile, a French Literature major and an Art History minor, having studied at the Sorbonne, this book is right up my proverbial alley. Noah's only 27 so hopefully he's got a lot more books in him to write - and publish.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elsi

    I still don't know whether I'd recommend this book or not. I enjoyed it -- for the most part -- but it left me feeling off-kilter. I'm not sure I can even explain why it failed to satisfy. It could be because there were a lot of characters and I found it difficult to keep up with who was who and who did what. It could be because the author would stick in big words -- gratuitously -- almost to show off that he was an intellectual. But, there were some excellent scenes in the book. I particularly l I still don't know whether I'd recommend this book or not. I enjoyed it -- for the most part -- but it left me feeling off-kilter. I'm not sure I can even explain why it failed to satisfy. It could be because there were a lot of characters and I found it difficult to keep up with who was who and who did what. It could be because the author would stick in big words -- gratuitously -- almost to show off that he was an intellectual. But, there were some excellent scenes in the book. I particularly liked Barrow's lectures and would enjoy taking a course from a professor with his acerbic style. But he was one of the very few well-developed characters in the book. I'm glad I didn't read any other reviews before I read the book. They are almost all negative, and I might have avoided reading The Art Thief if I had seen what others had to say. In summary, this is a flawed book. But it was OK.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Griffith

    If you love art, this is a great book. The descriptions of the art pieces were so precise, I could see them perfectly in my mind. No small feat. Maybe because I didn't read it all in one sitting, I had a little trouble keeping the characters and settings straight, even though the characterizations were fairly strong. There were just a lot of "main" characters, and the point of view jumped around a lot for me. That said, once the plot all started winding up I could see where he was going with it a If you love art, this is a great book. The descriptions of the art pieces were so precise, I could see them perfectly in my mind. No small feat. Maybe because I didn't read it all in one sitting, I had a little trouble keeping the characters and settings straight, even though the characterizations were fairly strong. There were just a lot of "main" characters, and the point of view jumped around a lot for me. That said, once the plot all started winding up I could see where he was going with it all along. (Great thanks to a somewhat "Charlie's Angels" ending where a group of characters sit around and tell the reader what all happened.) All in all, a fine first effort from a real talent. Charney takes us into another world--one of great wealth and fine taste-- with his story, and it's a fun trip. A word of caution: the characters (self-consciously) swear a lot. Too much, if you ask me. The very same story could have been told in a classier fashion with zero f-bombs.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bözsi Claussen

    I found this book interesting mainly for two reasons: 1/ it is an entangled and suspenseful mystery/detective story, but without a "main" detective; instead various experts end up discovering and piecing things together in much the same way a jigsaw puzzle set out on a table at Xmas might be worked on at any given moment by just one person, or two persons (not always the same two) or three or four. Each person is an expert in one major area: iconography of art; art museum curator; art theft poli I found this book interesting mainly for two reasons: 1/ it is an entangled and suspenseful mystery/detective story, but without a "main" detective; instead various experts end up discovering and piecing things together in much the same way a jigsaw puzzle set out on a table at Xmas might be worked on at any given moment by just one person, or two persons (not always the same two) or three or four. Each person is an expert in one major area: iconography of art; art museum curator; art theft police detective; professor of modern art; professor of medieval art; and so on. Reason #2 that I liked this was because I learned so much about art, art theft and detection, the behind the scenes situation when a "major" work of art is being auctioned and bought, etc. Definitely, a book worth reading.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Don't bother. This book is poorly written and riddled with unnecessary and absurd similes. It is pretentious, the plot and characters are underdeveloped and fall flat. The Scotland Yard detective is a blatant ripoff of Columbo. This could easily have been written by a ten year old, just not as interesting. The author is clearly trying to showcase his knowledge in art history, as most paragraphs are just definitions. The overall effect is that Noah Charney is trying too hard. The sole purpose of Don't bother. This book is poorly written and riddled with unnecessary and absurd similes. It is pretentious, the plot and characters are underdeveloped and fall flat. The Scotland Yard detective is a blatant ripoff of Columbo. This could easily have been written by a ten year old, just not as interesting. The author is clearly trying to showcase his knowledge in art history, as most paragraphs are just definitions. The overall effect is that Noah Charney is trying too hard. The sole purpose of my finishing the book was purely out of almost morbid curiosity. The same curiosity one gets watching a train wreck.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I listened to this on audio MP3 and it definitely enhanced my experience. Simon Vance is a remarkably talented reader who brought focus and charm to the chaotic story and countless characters. Charney showed a lot of writing potential, especially with character development but this dude needed an editor. He possibly needed a dozen editors. The highlights of the book are in the descriptions of paintings and artists and in the sections where the characters discuss art theory. I savored those parts I listened to this on audio MP3 and it definitely enhanced my experience. Simon Vance is a remarkably talented reader who brought focus and charm to the chaotic story and countless characters. Charney showed a lot of writing potential, especially with character development but this dude needed an editor. He possibly needed a dozen editors. The highlights of the book are in the descriptions of paintings and artists and in the sections where the characters discuss art theory. I savored those parts like ripe berries on a huge, tangled bramble.

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