Book Review: Stealing Mona Lisa

The Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The novel, Stealing Mona Lisa, by Carson Morton is based on the actual theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. The story begins as a reporter goes to a rooming house to speak with the dying Marquis Eduardo de Valfierno.  The Marquis begins his story of the theft of the world’s most famous painting in Argentina, where he and a small, close-knit group of cons fleece the nouveau rich with copies of famous paintings they pass off as the stolen masterpieces.
Valfierno meets his match in one of his clients, the wealthy industrialist Joshua Hart who plays a crucial role in the story and plays a role throughout.  More surprising though is Mr. Hart’s wife and the role she comes to play in Valfierno’s schemes.
 The novel was published on the 100th anniversary of the crime and although slow in a few spots, the book is worth the read to get to the surprising end. Carson Morton does a terrific job of tying the story together at the end and leaves me wanting to learn much more about the real theft of the Mona Lisa.
Book Details:  Published byMinotaur Books; First Edition edition (August 2, 2011), 352 pages, ISBN: 031262171X.

The Devotion of Suspect X

The Booklover’s Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This book was so hard to put down!  I read it in three sittings, but could have read it in two (unfortunately I had something to do that couldn’t wait). Be careful, you could stay up all night reading this one!

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped a less than perfect life and an abusive ex-husband.  When he shows up one day to extort money and threaten her and her daughter, the situation turns deadly.   A white knight shows up in the form of a mathematics teacher who lives next door.  Ishigami offers his help and from there the story takes off!

Detective Kusanagi takes the case and goes to his old friend Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist who often consults on Kusanagi’s cases.   Yukawa went to college with Ishigami and after meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder.

The plotting in this suspense novel is amazing and I completely understand why this book was so popular in Japan.  If you like suspense novels, do not miss The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino!

Book Details: Published by Minotaur Books (February 1, 2011), 298 pages, ISBN: 978-0312375065

Book Review: In the Shadow of Gotham

The Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a first novel by Stefanie Pintoff’ and a winner of the first Minotaur Books/MWA Best First Crime Novel award.  I choose this book because I had enjoyed Caleb Carr’s book The Alienst and hoped for something similar.  This book is good, but does not have the depth of Caleb Carr’s novel.

The following review is from Publisher’s Weekly:
The wreck of the steamship General Slocum in 1904 cost Det. Simon Ziele of the New York City police both his fiancée and the full use of his right arm. In response to those losses, Ziele has abandoned big-city policing for the quiet dullness of Dobson, a town in Westchester County, but a brutal murder interrupts his retreat from the world. Someone slashes and bludgeons to death Sarah Wingate, a Columbia mathematics graduate student whose brilliance evoked jealousy in her peers, in her home under circumstances that resemble the notorious murders of Lizzie Borden’s parents. Ziele’s investigation is soon co-opted by Alistair Sinclair, a student of criminology who’s convinced he knows the culprit’s identity. The period detail, characterizations and plotting are all top-notch, and Ziele has enough depth to carry a series.

This book is a quick read – great for the plane or train.  I only gave the book three hearts, but am looking forward to Ms. Pintoff’s next work and expect that her books will only get better and better.

Book Details: Published by Minotaur Books (April 28, 2009), 400 pages, ISBN-10: 0312544901, ISBN-13: 978-0312544904.