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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story and fascinating background
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...
Published on 27 Mar 2008 by Damaskcat

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Caricatures not characters
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...
Published on 24 April 2008 by M. A. M. Horne


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Caricatures not characters, 24 April 2008
By 
M. A. M. Horne (Wolverhampton, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story and fascinating background, 27 Mar 2008
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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 'Witty, fast-paced' my eye!, 24 Feb 2009
This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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. Most of the book is in English but quite often you have French sentences or Italian ones - now my French is reasonably good and I know a bit of Italian so it's not that I don't understand the meaning - but what on earth is the purpose of this? To prove the author knows French and Italian? Most irritating.

In short, do not believe a word in the product description as none of it is true. If you want a dissertation on art etc. go ahead and read it - otherwise give it a miss.
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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 (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
This was disappointing with an obvious plot, a broken storyline and too much lecturing of the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars THE INTELLIGENCE THIEF, 11 Aug 2013
By 
Goody (Somerset - Wiltshire border) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
I picked this up with high hopes of learning more about fine art trading, authentication and forgery. Did the book help me do so? Yes, but minimally, and in such a tortuous, clunky, bleedin' obvious, smug, "look how much I know, aren't I clever?" fashion that after the first couple of chapters I wanted to throw it across the room.
Charney appears (APPEARS, mind you: we only have his word for it, and he's so awfully pleased with himself on this point that one is left wondering how much is hype and/or delusion ...) to know his stuff re: the art world; but the trouble is, and it's a BIG trouble, that he doesn't know how to write. Not - one - bit. Granted, the plot has a modest level of cleverness about it, but that's as far as it goes. Everything else - characterisation, dialogue, plausibility, syntax, style, local detail - is dreadful. His characters (it overrates them to call them such - they are caricatures) come heavily laden with crude national stereotyping, their dialogue peppered with redundant & intrusive French and Italian phrases and obscenities. The dialogue itself is clumsy, lame, bearing little resemblance to the way any normal person talks, let alone a professional among professionals from the same or other walks of life, and it's peppered with off-kilter 'local' touches, such as having the British detective and his wife call each other "luv", a spelling only relevant if an author is (a) trying to echo northern dialect, which isn't the case here, or (b) thinks in his ignorance that that's how Brits spell it since the swinging '60s. Product placement is rife: Charney clearly believes that a certain make of shirt/tie/shoe/pen is crucial and telling, when in fact it simply makes him sound like a snob, or like someone who reads the Sunday supplements and thinks he knows his stuff.
Elsewhere Charney allows himself to run wild in what he thinks is high-flown style, only to make this reader (and many others, I suspect) guffaw in derision or writhe in literary pain. The prose is infected with adjectives and redundant commas. As for local detail, has Charney ever BEEN to the UK? Whether he has or not, has he not heard of local research? For example, he might like to know that there is no London Underground exit direct into the middle of Trafalgar Square from Charing Cross station, and it's been decades since London buses had conductors with ticket-machines slung round their shoulders. Also, Tate Modern is ... Tate Modern, not THE Tate Modern, and - scoring max points on the chortle index - museum guards in Britain do NOT sport shoulder-holsters with handguns, or tote shotguns. No UK security team would ever be granted a licence to carry shotguns, let alone have them to hand on a rack, and handguns are illegal here, full stop.
All of the above, and more, could have been sorted out - even better, smothered at birth - by a half-competent editor possessing a firm hand when dealing with writers' vanities. Sadly, none was deployed.
To compound all this, the last 20+ pages are devoted not to telling us about other (better?) books available through the same lazy and/or smitten publisher, but to yet more self-indulgence, viz. a so-called 'interview' with Charney, notable for yet more self-promotion and for his confessing to having wept with empathy and tenderness while writing about his Brit and French detectives; which is ironic, given that I and no doubt many other readers almost wept with pain. The final insult to our intelligence is the inclusion of pages of pretentious and tangential questions for discussion by book clubs. Priceless! THE GUY THINKS HIS STUFF IS WORTH DISCUSSING IN GROUPS!
Sometimes it is so bad it's almost funny, to the point where I did seriously wonder whether I had misread the blurb, and the whole thing was in fact a hamfisted attempt at satire. Sadly, it seems it isn't, as that would be the only way to explain the whole wretched thing. I am not going to dispose of this waste of paper via a charity shop, as I do not want to inflict Charney's illiterate s**** on an unsuspecting fellow human. Besides, he doesn't deserve the publicity.
But hey, why don't I come off the fence and tell people what I REALLY think?
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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 review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buy something else, 20 Oct 2009
This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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. Semi-literate writing. I'm ashamed to take it to the charity shop.

Mr Charney: If you want to write books go learn the basic techniques. If you're going to use the slang of a foreign country at least get a local to check it. Get your facts right. And lose the purple prose.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious throughout, 28 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dan Brown with an A-level in Art, 10 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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 give it a miss. Also, for an Englishman, he uses an awful lot of Americanisms and stereotypes, which get a bit embarrassing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time (or your money), 20 Sep 2008
This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
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? (He claims qualifications from Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute) If he has then shame on his editorial team. They clearly haven't. Check your facts please.

As for the Scotland Yard and French detectives. Yuuuuugggghhh. Sad. Tired. Totally uninteresting. And the art thief - what did he actually do? How did he pull it off? I'm afraid I lost the will to live during this book. It was a huge struggle to finish it - but I did my best, hoping for a small moment of redepmtion. But don't bother. It doesn't happen. I feel so strongly I've posted my first ever comments and review. Maybe the art stuff was accurate. Don't know. But wouldn't trust it on the strength of other factual detail and colour.
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The Art Thief by Noah Charney (Hardcover - 18 Sep 2007)
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