Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stealing Mona Lisa-Carson Morton

Stealing Mona Lisa
Carson Morton
Minotaur, Aug 2 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312621711

Marquis Eduardo de Valfierno is a sophisticated thief whose polite charm enables him entrance to the wealthy while his cunning allows him to lead a team of con artists, forgers and robbers. His crew steals valuable paintings that his forgers reproduce as incredible fakes often better than the original, which Valfierno sells as the genuine masterpieces to his affluent naive customers.

In 1910 in Buenos Aires, Valfierno begins to assemble a team (American pickpocket Julia Conway, his current client’s wife Mrs. Ellen Hart, Louvre employee Vicenzo Perugia, and artist José Diego Santiago de la Santísima) to steal La Joconde (the Mona Lisa) from the Musee D’Orsay. In 1911 Valfierno and his crew are in Paris during a horrific rainy season as they begin the plan of Stealing the Mona Lisa unaware that Mr. Hart and a dedicated Police Inspector follow their activities.

This is a superb historical crime drama based on the real theft of the Mona Lisa a century ago. The story line is fast-paced with a strong cast starting with the brilliant Valfierno who understands the avaricious egomania of his clients. Even knowing the outcome, fans will relish this taut thriller as Carson Morton paints a dark degenerate look at the Gilded Age in which the affluent bought masterpieces to hang in their personal museums for their pleasure only.

Harriet Klausner

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