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Customer reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 16 February 2010
This was an enjoyable and amusing "whodunnit" which harked back to the Golden Age of crime novels, with its setting in a Miss Marple-ish village where the local Lady of the Manor opens the Village Fete and the villagers are all related to one another...

Looking at Bookcrossing, I have read this book before, but I couldn't remember it ... so it's not an amazing book, but it is one that adequately passes the time. I realised the perpetrator quite early on, because they appear in a later book in this series, which I do remember ... I think!
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on 10 May 2006
My first Iain Pears book and an excellent start. I found the story engrossing, the art world background fascinating and the cast of main characters believable.

Its a very different approach to the detective story with no full on policemen. There are 2 great characters from the Italian art crime squad battling with art crime, internal politics, the Italian state system, and their own mixture of fiery and sleepy Italian nature. There is also an inquisitive, slightly restless and not very good (i.e too moral) art dealer who has a nose for research and a love for the female art crime squad detective.

They approach different elements of the crime and this keeps the interest going really well. The criminal is a lovable if slightly barmy individual and works well into the story.

I'm a keen Donna Leon fan and that brought me to this book and while not up to Leon's descriptive style it was really enjoyable and i want to find out more about Flavia, Argyll and Bottando.

I love books where I learn something, I'm entertained and where there is a real feeling for atmosphere and this book fits the bill.
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on 30 March 2010
I found "Giotto's Hand" a nice unchallenging, relaxing read, in the course of which I learned a surprising amount about the world of art dealing (although, as other reviewers have pointed out, not so much about art itself). It does present a welcome alternative to the high-tension, ultra-violent world of so many modern thrillers and police procedurals. Instead, we are introduced to the Dilbert-like office politics of Rome's Art Theft Squad, where Dottore Corrado Argan, a ruthless and resourceful career bureaucrat, is making a spirited bid to take over from the team's long-standing, highly respected, and very effective boss General Taddeo Bottando. (There is something charmingly Italian about the idea of a general being put in charge of investigating art thefts...)

By way of Rome, Florence, and London the case leads to the wilds of East Anglia - and a strangely coincidental murder (or was it murder?) It is typical of Iain Pears' laid-back style that most of the investigation is carried out very informally by failed art dealer Jonathan Argyll, whose standing consists solely of being the boy friend of Flavia di Stefano, one of Bottando's trusted officers. Gradually the story comes together, plunging us into a mass of deceptions, frauds, and other crimes - many of them hoary with age. But can anything be proved? And should the surviving perpetrators (if any) really be brought to justice? Most important of all, how can the whole smelly Gorgonzola best be employed to confound Dottore Argan? Read on and find out...
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on 2 February 2011
For me, this was a surprisingly light and fast read - started and finished almost in an evening.

The story begins in Tuscany with a rather complicated description of departmental politics - but don't let this put you off. Apparently, the 'art theft' department has to prove itself and defend it's methods against an interloper who is all politics and no substance. This opportunity is given in the form of a cryptic note, which opens up a number of unsolved cases - in themselves, open to question. The story develops as the members of the art theft department scrabble to unravel the obvious and the not so obvious.

The most enjoyable part of this book are the twists and double twists. At first, I was bothered that I couldn't really get to grips with the characters, many of whom seem to be little more than cardboard cutouts. However, being patient with this allowed me to really appreciate the denouement which, without giving too much away, hinges on something of a mind game. Definitely worth a read.
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on 30 April 2001
One of the best mystery novels I've read in a long time. Iain Pears is a far better writer of detective novels than Mccabe or Christie. The novel is an easy read without being too simplistic and holds one's attention.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
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on 4 May 2015
Interested read, but not a convincing plot for me.
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on 16 February 2004
With virtually no depth to the leading characters and a catatonically unexciting plot, this book is like a "young readers" detective story, or a re-written novel for learners of English as a foreign language.
Virtually a waste of time for any sentient reader.
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on 13 April 2006
This book is called "Giotto's hand", it is based around art theft, involves an art dealer and an art detection agency and is written by an art historian. SO WHY ISNT IT ACTUALLY ABOUT ART??

Ignore the reviews on the cover relating to anything regarding art history, this is very simply like an episode of Midsomer murders, with some extra europeans added in a presumed attempt to add some glamour. That aside, it really wasnt too bad overall, and it was very short and easy to read.

I would suggest that Pears isnt the most accomplished or imaginitive of authors, but he at least made a decent job of a very standard formulaic murder mystery. Having studied art history myself I really wouldnt have guessed that the author was connected to the art world, as the only vaguely arty themes are a few old atists names and a couple of dates here and there-nothing a complete novice couldnt find out very easily should they want to write something similar-with no real insight into...well, anything arty really... which was quite disappointing. It was also quite easy to guess who was behind it all as the book is only 260 pages long and it gets where its going pretty quickly as a result.

However, I did enjoy reading this book and I am going to be trying Iain Pears other books before dismissing him out of hand as this showed some promise in parts.

One final note Mr. Pears-you have about 10 characters in total in your book so is it really neccessary for the 3 main people involved to be called George, Gordon and Geoffery as this can get confusing at times without a surname!
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on 20 August 2015
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