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The Irish Game: A True Story of Art and Crime [Hardcover]

Matthew Hart
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.00
Price: 14.26 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Jun 2004
Vermeer, Goya, Rembrant, Rubens - the Beit art collection was worth millions. For twenty-two years, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit lived peacefully at Russborough, the remote stately home near the Wicklow Mountains that housed their glorious paintings. Then, one spring evening in 1974, the 33-year-old British heiress Rose Dugdale, who had espoused the Irish cause, thought it a good idea to raid Russborough to raise funds for the IRA. She and her gang made off with nineteen paintings, including Vermeer's exquisite Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid. She was quickly tracked down by the diligent Garda and the paintings recovered. But her daring had alerted other criminals to a sitting duck. In 1986 the Dublin gangster Martin Cahill - a criminal so renowned for his tactics they called him 'The General' - planned an audacious burglary of Russborough. He esaped by the skin of his teeth with eighteen masterpieces including, once again, the Vermeer. The rolled canvases were buried in the Wicklow Mountains. However, these beautiful and mysterious paintings were to be the downfall of a criminal who had taunted the Garda for years. The challenge of disposing of such famous works of art forced Cahill to reach outside his familiar world into the international arena, and when he did, his pursuers were waiting. With the storytelling skill of a novelist and the nose of a detective, Matthew Hart uncovers the devious activities of the burglars, fences, art detectives and undercover agents involved in the theft and recovery of Sir Alfred's priceless collection. With pace and panache, he shows how art theft has changed in recent years, with famous masterpieces acting as collateral among the drug and arms barons. But there is a happy ending: when the stolen paintings were finally recovered, the process of restoring them led to a remarkable discovery about the way Vermeer achieved his magical perspectives, enriching for ever the way we see his art.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Edition edition (3 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701177551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701177553
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Absorbing and fast-moving" (Christopher Hirst Independent)

"The reader is gripped from the start by the fun of the chase... This book is a fabulous read" (Irish Independent)

"Hart writes, as it were, from the heart - he cares so intimately, knows so much and selects so impeccably" (Sunday Times)

"A "good story", with cops and robbers, terrorists, nincompoops, useful historical background, lurid modern foreground and a style that reanimates the past... Fascinating" (Independent on Sunday)

"Matthew Hart conveys the glamour, adventure, ruthlessness and even murderous nature of the trade with a novelist's grasp of narrative... Excellent" (The Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An audacious theft, a brilliant sting, an astonishing discovery-a true story of modern art theft

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real life thriller 26 Jun 2011
Unlike the previous reviewer I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Hart has done a tremendous amount of research to tell his story clearly and concisely. Several authentic 'larger than life' characters (Rose Dugdale and Martin Cahill for example) make the story read more like a thriller than a non-fiction account of two huge art thefts, one in Ireland and one in Boston, Mass. You will enjoy learning about the people, the Irish mafia, art restoration, and the stupidity of stealing art (It is all registered, and therefore virtually impossible to resell).
And the story is told in a very engaging manner.

I see that it is possible to purchase this book for 1p plus postage. Try it; you can't go wrong at that price.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potentially very good, but falls short 6 Mar 2007
I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters on the first two Russborough robberies, and it really fitted it's billing as a True Crime novel.

The problems, for me, came when it moved over to discussing the restoration of artwork that was only very loosely connected to Martin Cahill and/or Russborough and the whole plot began to fall apart.

Towards the end the story returned to another art crime and the story really picked up pace again.

I feel that the material in this book would make the basis for two really good books, one on International Crime, and one on Art Restoration but in the end this feels like it is just alot of research jumbled together.
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