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The Art Thief [Hardcover]

Noah Charney
2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Sep 2007
The disappearance of a priceless Caravaggio in Rome and the famous 'White on White' by Russian painter Kasimir Malevich in Paris heralds the start of a series of seemingly unconnected art crimes across Europe. Fitting the pieces together as they follow a trail of bluffs and double-bluffs, bizarre clues and intellectual puzzles, Inspector Jean-Jacques Bizot in Paris and Harry Wickenden of Scotland Yard come to realize that what at first appears a spate of random thefts is all part of a single master plan, and that they are being led ever deeper into a baffling conspiracy. This fiendishly clever debut thriller takes us behind the scenes of the elite fine art world of auction houses, academia and museums to offer a fascinating view of art history, witty, fast-paced dialogue and an ever-surprising plot that twists its way from Rome to Paris to London and back again.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (18 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416550305
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416550303
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,529,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Caricatures not characters 24 April 2008
Ienjoyed the art history bits, as this is my hobby. The plot was very convoluted. The book is let down by the lack of credible characters. These are stereotypical caricatures. Especially bad are the detectives (both English and French) and Professor Simon Barrow. No intelligent academic would address his students in such a manner. I think that the author tried too hard to create memorable characters and failed lamentably.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor & obvious plot 1 Sep 2008
By R. Gill
This was disappointing with an obvious plot, a broken storyline and too much lecturing of the reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story and fascinating background 27 Mar 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found all the information about art thefts and the art world in general very interesting. The plot was complex and there was a neat twist at the end. Da Vinci Code it is not, especially as it is more literary in style.

I did rather like the French detective and the apparently stupid English one - who wasn't actually at all stupid. Some of the more minor characters were less convincing but this did not detract from the book as a whole. I loved the description of Portobello Market which came over as flamboyant and sinister by turns. The style is crisp with humorous dialogue which comes over as authentic.

I have only two criticisms - the author's repeated use of the word 'perpendicular' for 'vertical', which I'm surprised an editor didn't pick up on - and the fact that the Italian stolen painting and the search for it seemed to feature very little - except at the beginning and the end, even though this painting was vitally important throughout. I'm sure both of these points are down to the book being a first novel, and I look forward to reading his next book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear 4 Sep 2012
This book is so awful it has its own weird compulsiveness. The writer doesn't seem ever to have read a novel, or anything else with characters in, or speech, or human motivation. The plot and information could have been interesting, but the writing is so inept it sounds as though the words come in big misunderstood lumps straight from a thesaurus. 'Precipitous' eyes, anyone? The 'comedy' makes you cringe - the Scotland Yard specialist relies on his wife to inspire him in between mouthfuls of crisps while he struggles to put his own overcoat on -(overcoat? hat? moustache? Which Ealing comedy are we in here?). If you're interested in art-theft fiction, my advice is to give this a big big miss, and go for 'The Bellini Card' or 'Giotto's Hand', both by writers who create believable worlds instead of pointless confusion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 'Witty, fast-paced' my eye! 24 Feb 2009
By Tina
Oh my, where to start with this book. The only positive I can think of is that the author obviously knows his stuff and is passionate about it. But if you are looking for a `witty, fast-paced' novel that takes you on a `breathtaking journey', as was the description on the back of the book, give it a miss, because it is extremely misleading! The pace was excruciatingly slow. As for `witty' - there was no wit in this book at all, unless the author considers one of the characters calling his students `turkeys' or `sheep' was funny, or maybe one character repeatedly mistaking his vibrating phone in his pocket for something else...

This book is more like a non-fiction work on art, art history, art crimes and is very informative in that respect but it felt like the author was cramming in as much of this stuff as he could, a lot not necessary. It made reading very hard-going - I felt like I had been reading for ages but it turned out that it was only a few pages! I was so tempted not to finish this book but I stuck it out, but my God it was painful. I kept hoping that soon the pace would pick up but it never did and was possibly one of the most boring books I've ever read.

The ending I found most unsatisfactory. The writing style was atrocious - sometimes I thought that the dialogues the author wrote could never possibly take place in real life, so stilted. There were quite a few characters in the book, none of them particularly likeable and while the author tried to develop them, he didn't succeed, only giving us bits and pieces. And why does nearly everyone in the book smoke (and no I'm not from the anti-smoking brigade)? One other thing that really annoyed me - and not only in this book - some of the book is set in France, and Italy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious throughout 28 Nov 2011
Firstly, I must note that the author certainly knows his art history, and he likes to talk about it. A lot. Another thing that he loves is using a wide range of vocabulary, but to use it every sentence becomes somewhat cloying after a while. The book becomes a chore to read after the first couple of chapters, and it doesn't really become more interesting as the story progresses.

The characters are unrealistic. The two detectives don't know how to use computers, and seeing as this book was written in 2007, I think it's safe to say that they wouldn't be in the job were this the case. The French detective, Bizot, is an especially poor character, who seems to take pride in how unhealthy and overweight he is. I wanted him to fail pretty early on.

As with many reviews here, I have to agree that this is a very poor attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Dan Brown-esque novel which has failed miserably. I urge you not to read this book.

The one highlight and redeeming feature is that the book ends about 20 pages earlier than you expect it to, because the last 20 or so pages are filled with reading notes. That was a happy bonus.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars THE INTELLIGENCE THIEF
I picked this up with high hopes of learning more about fine art trading, authentication and forgery. Did the book help me do so? Read more
Published 8 months ago by Goody
1.0 out of 5 stars don't bother.
I presume that when the FT were quoted with "an engaging whodunit" the rest of the sentence was "this is nothing like an engaging whodunit" because it really isn't. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ms. Fiona Allen
2.0 out of 5 stars Dan Brown with an A-level in Art
It's quite pretentious and convoluted in places. If you are a big fan of Dan Brown but want something a little more highbrow, then this may be for you, but anyone else may want to... Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2011 by JB Reeves
1.0 out of 5 stars Buy something else
I bought this because I needed something for a long flight and I was in a hurry.

Truly the worst book I've read in years. Plot badly thought through. Characters awful. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2009 by James H
4.0 out of 5 stars really rather wonderful
This book sparked an interest with the mention of Carravaggio (an artist Ive studied) and the National Gallery ( one of the best gallery's Ive been to) I havent read a book in a... Read more
Published on 11 Oct 2009 by keri
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time (or your money)
This was the most dreadful book I've read in years. The characterisation was banal - ridiculous stereotypes from decades ago. And has the author ever visited London? Read more
Published on 20 Sep 2008 by Judith Barnard
1.0 out of 5 stars not a fan
I really wanted to like this book, but overall I found it tedious. Over the top descriptive language leads to an irritating and somewhat cringe worthy read. Read more
Published on 7 May 2008 by No Name
4.0 out of 5 stars The Author Certainly Knows About Art
Noah Charney was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1979. After graduating, he moved to London, where he studied at the Courtauld Institute and received a Masters for his work on... Read more
Published on 14 April 2008 by J. Chippindale
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