From the Publisher
“Pears has a whimsical take on the scruples of the art trade, on English food and plumbing and on Italian bureaucracy…A sweet, art world ‘cozy.’”—San Jose Mercury News
“Art, crime, and Italy mix well…Pears masterfully juggles his plot elements while providing delightful diversion in the contrasting manners of his English and Italian characters.”—Booklist
“Fine art, quirky characters and scenes set in Rome and an English country village add to the joys of Giotto’s Hand…A neat twist at the end is the cherry on this fudge sundae of a mystery.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
San Jose Mercury News
A whimsical take on the scruples of the art trade, on English food and plumbing and on Italian bureaucracy.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British art dealer Jonathan Argyll's business is falling becauseas a fellow dealer tells himhe cares too much about the stuff he works with and lacks the killer instinct. Both criticisms apply as well to the latest in Pears's series (afterThe Last Judgement, 1996) about Argyll and his two friends on Rome's Art Theft Squad, General Bottando and Flavia di Stefano. Pears certainly knows and loves his art; Argyll's pleasure and excitement at realizing that a forgotten sketch is a lost treasure bounces off the page. His writing is smooth and often delightful ("...he stirred sugar into his coffee and then sipped at the thick syrupy mixture that made life worthwhile"), and there's a jolly subplot as Bottando and Flavia get some revenge on a smarmy bureaucrat. But there's really only one murder here and very little action or danger as Argyll and Flavia as move through Italy and England on the trail of an art thief whom Bottando has nicknamed Giotto because of his expertise and virtual invisibility. And most readers will be disappointed by recognizing Giotto's identity long before Argyll does. (July)
Now that fledgling art dealer Jonathan Argyll has finally consummated his rather foolish romance with Flavia di Stefano, of Rome's Art Theft Department (The Last Judgment, 1996, etc.), the two of them can finally turn their full-time energies to tracking down stolen Italian masters. But this time they don't even need to nose out secrets; the secrets come to them. First there's a tearful confession from Maria Fancelli that 30 years ago she helped her seducer, shadowy English dealer Geoffrey Forster, steal an Uccello; then, after Jonathan flies to England and phones Forster, there's a grudging invitation to discuss the painting, which has to be canceled when Jonathan finds Forster dead; finally, there are statements by two independent witnesses that finger Forster for unsolved thefts of paintings by Fra Angelico and Pollaiuloand strongly suggest he may have been the wily master thief Flavia's boss, General Taddeo Bottando, has dubbed Giotto. Can Jonathan, short of documentation when somebody breaks the police seals on Forster's house and burns his papers, tie Forster in to all of Giotto's 31 suspected theftsand Pears's trademark, another sensational centuries-old art findin time to save Bottando from the officious bureaucrat who's baying for his resignation? As a final twist makes clear, collecting all that evidence is easy compared to the climactic challenge Jonathan will have to meet.
Urbane and amusing as ever, with surprising new depths of temptation for the herothough series veterans won't be fooled.