Sunday, October 01, 2006
Book Review: The Rescue Artist
A few weeks ago, I posted about the recovery of The Scream, and one anonymous commenter *cough*Phil* recommended the book The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece, by Edward Dolnick. I borrowed the book and finished it a couple of days ago. I am an avid reader, but there are two categories of books that I do not enjoy. The first is Eastern European literature (sorry, Dostoyevsky and company do not do it for me, no matter how hard I try) and the second is non-fiction. Either it's too dense and technical (Guns, Germs, and Steel), too sensationalized and not technical enough (anything about infectious disease), or too smug (I'm talking to you, Malcolm Gladwell). However, The Rescue Artist suffered from none of these flaws- it kept me interested and entertained. The book is entirely non-fiction and delves into the world of art theft by focusing on one character, Charley Hill of Scotland Yard's art crimes department, and one painting, The Scream. The book rapidly dispels the notion of the charming and clever art thief so often depicted in the movies and enters a world of vicious criminals who steal art because it's valuable and because it's easy.