I used to really enjoy mysteries with art settings and themes and I read quite a number back then, maybe 10 years ago? These days I’ll pick up an art-oriented novel if it catches my eye and has gotten a few good reviews like this one did:
The Last Mona Lisa
by Jonathan Santlofer
2021 (404 pages)Read by Edoardo Ballerini 9h 15m
Rating: C / crime
It started out as a pretty fun book but as it progressed I realized there were some pet-peeves here. First, novels based on real-life people and events can annoy me by stretching my suspension of disbelief a bit too far. I like historical fiction if the setting and events are emphasized as history – not if the characters named and based on actual historical people.
Still, this book is mostly pretty fun even with the historical incident being the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. So far so good. It’s almost everything after that which bothers me. Santlofer invents a lot more than is verifiable about the thief. So the story is simply “based on” this incident with this name doing the deed. It starts with an artist and professor of art history finding out that his grandfather was the Mona Lisa thief and then chasing after evidence of forgery and finding out he’s not alone in that search and that the art world can be a very dangerous place.
Here’s the real story if you’re interested:
I don’t like when local type stories get enlarged to world-wide espionage. (This mostly happens with series where the author has run out of plausible local stories.)
And I don’t like when too many chapters end in cliff-hangers.
I don’t like too many coincidences used as plot twists.
And then – just to add something over-the-top, the protagonist is an alcoholic in AA.
So the book gets a C and any lower I wouldn’t have even bothered to finish.