A mystery that delves into the high-powered world of art abduction and forgery, The Art Thief takes us behind the scenes of museums across the globe and into the inner sanctum of Christie’s Auction House in London. Mysterious thefts of completely different styles of paintings are plaguing law enforcement across Europe. A priceless Baroque painting from a chapel in Italy, a modernistic painting from a museum in Paris, and a new acquisition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in London all disappear with little clue as to who has accomplished the abductions.
I was intrigued by the concept of the story, and Noah Charney has created quirky characters with hidden faces. Like an Agatha Christie story, the reader doesn’t see all that is going on in the character’s mind. The reader has no idea of the motivations behind the actions, so the protagonist of the story remains hidden until the author decides to reveal him or her. The mystery is clever and well-built, but unfortunately a good mystery takes more than this.
The execution of the storyline is where things fell apart. The storyline is lost in the myriad details of art history and multiple characters. By the end of the book, the paragraphs of art lecture turn into pages and pages of art dissertation. What initially promises to be a clever and captivating mystery never develops. This is unfortunate, because I truly enjoyed Charney’s style of voice and his dry wit. Perhaps a bit more focus on the mystery and less focus on the history would help.