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Like Graham Greene, Pears writes both serious, philosophical novels (The Dream of Scipio and An Instance of the Fingerpost) and entertainments--in this case, the fascinating art history mysteries which feature Flavia di Stefano and her boss, Gen. Taddeo Bottando of the Rome police. These quirky detectives from the Art Theft Squad are back in action here, though with changed roles. Bottando is now semi-retired and Flavia, newly married to former art dealer Jonathan Argyll, is acting head of the department.
Life in Pears' Rome never pretends to be simple, and it's always loads of fun for the reader. Here the theft of a priceless painting on loan from the Louvre leads to the Italian prime minister's order to Flavia to find it, but she must not allow the public or the press to know about the theft, she must get it back no matter the cost, she must pay whatever ransom is demanded without using public funds, and she must do this knowing in advance that she will be a scapegoat--that the prime minister will publicly deny everything he's told her. As the search for the painting gets underway, further mysteries unfold, until even Bottando himself is implicated in an art theft.
Influence peddling, payoffs, and old political rivalries are both accepted and taken for granted here as Flavia negotiates the minefields of art and politics. The satire is gentle, and the action is non-stop. The intricacies of the characters' relationships keep the reader constantly challenged and always thinking, and the art history angle, more about provenance than about painters, should appeal to readers with little art background. The surprising conclusion and the major changes resulting to the lives of the main characters are stunning. If Pears continues this series, it will undoubtedly be in new directions. Mary Whipple
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on 23 May 2012
Hopefully this is not the last we will hear of Flavia di Stefano and Jonathan Argyll, the ace art theft and murder sleuths who operate from Rome but seem to get around most of Europe (and further afield). But it is the last (to date) in the wonderful series of art history novels created by Iain Pears, and after 12 years of waiting for the next instalment, his fans are beginning to think that it may never arrive. To the book itself - little needs to be said other than The Immaculate Deception is very well titled as the story contains numerous mysteries for our heroes to uncover and the ending has a surprise neither dreamed of at the beginning of their investigations. As usual, Mr Pears has written a fast-moving and entertaining plot, touched with human frailties and humour.
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on 23 October 2001
This was my first introduction to Pears and I'd read him again. He has a lovely light touch and you might as well be in Piazza Navona the way he gets his Italian setting just right. The story? A mildly diverting caper that turns out to be a bit far-fetched. But the characters are well drawn and the yarn keeps you engaged.
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on 24 September 2001
Have to agree with previous reviewer who comments about shallowness of characterisation. I can hardly believe that this was written by the same author who wrote An Instance of the Fingerpost, which is brilliantly executed as well as being a great story. In Immaculate Deception, you get the feeling the author wanted to get on with what he thought was a very clever plot without the usual encumberances of developing characters or having convincing dialogue. Having said all that, it did keep me reading as I wanted to find out what happened, so have given it three stars.
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on 7 August 2001
Just to even the score here, I've given the book four stars. It isn't a classic of the crime genre but does deal with an interesting area - art theft - and the characters are charming. They aren't broken-down drunks or hard bitten ex-cops. In fact they're more likely to be solving crime with a glass of chianti in hand than getting all existential with a bottle of bourbon. All the better for that, I say. Salute!
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on 29 July 2001
I only just managed to get to the end of this book because the plot was good. The narrator and almost every single character, good or bad, British or Italian, speak in the same middle class understated way, as if the author has never met any other sort of person.
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on 12 October 2001
I found both the plot and style of the book refreshing. Although I have to admit I missed becoming closely aquainted with the characters' deep inner thoughts and histories, the book style gives the reader a chance to think about the plots/subplots and form their own opinions on the characters. Why do we always rely on the narrator to tell us about characters via intricate details, when we ourselves can develop an impression through cleverly crafted points. Mr Pears has created a 'create-your-own-character' book, complete with intelligent plot and annoying end...who was that painting by?!!
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on 7 October 2013
Arrived quickly, in great condition and just in time for me to start reading it as I finished the previous book the morning it came through my post box! Never been let down by this book store.
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on 7 February 2011
He writes such clever books and his research on Art is faultless.

I have collected all the books as the three main characters are such fun and still solve the crime
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on 16 December 2013
I love Iain Pears's books and this series in particular and this one didn't disappoint. A really fabulous detective mystery for Jonathan's wife, Flavia.
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