The Immaculate Deception By

    Iain Pears' mystery series is a delight from start to finish. This latest book is no exception with our heroine, Flavia diStefano, fighting her way through the confusion brought about by the theft and ransom of a painting from the local museum. The political ramifications of the recovery of the painting are a maze through which Flavia (with the help of her newly minted husband, Joanthan Argyll, our hero) must make her way. Complicating the recovery process is the involvement of Flavia's former superior, Taddeo Bottando, and art thief extraordinaire, Mary Verney.
    This book is a delightful addition to the previous entries in this series, although at time the action becomes a little to convoluted for belief. A heartily enjoyable book in a wonderful series. Deduct one star for the small amount of interaction between the main characters (Flavia Jonathan) they are a riot when they are detecting together. In this book they spend most of their time jaunting about independently, only meeting up again briefly for the conclusion.
    Pears has left himself an opening with the end of this book to either end the series or to proceed with it in a slightly new direction. One can only hope that he is currently working on the next Flavia Jonathan mystery. 978-0743212571 aaa 978-0743212571 Like Graham Greene, Pears writes both serious, philosophical novels (The Dream of Scipio and An Instance of the Fingerpost) and entertainments in this case, the fascinating art history mysteries which feature Flavia di Stefano and her boss, Gen. Taddeo Bottando of the Rome police. These quirky detectives from the Art Theft Squad are back in action here, though with changed roles. Bottando is now semi retired and Flavia, newly married to former art dealer Jonathan Argyll, is acting head of the department.

    Life in Pears' Rome never pretends to be simple, and it's always loads of fun for the reader. Here the theft of a priceless painting on loan from the Louvre leads to the Italian prime minister's order to Flavia to find it, but she must not allow the public or the press to know about the theft, she must get it back no matter the cost, she must pay whatever ransom is demanded without using public funds, and she must do this knowing in advance that she will be a scapegoat that the prime minister will publicly deny everything he's told her. As the search for the painting gets underway, further mysteries unfold, until even Bottando himself is implicated in an art theft.

    Influence peddling, payoffs, and old political rivalries are both accepted and taken for granted here as Flavia negotiates the minefields of art and politics. The satire is gentle, and the action is non stop. The intricacies of the characters' relationships keep the reader constantly challenged and always thinking, and the art history angle, about provenance than about painters, should appeal to readers with little art background. The surprising conclusion and the major changes resulting to the lives of the main characters are stunning. If Pears continues this series, it will undoubtedly be in new directions. Mary Whipple 978-0743212571 Mr. Pears authored the brilliant work, An Instance At The Fingerpost. His newest work, The Immaculate Deception, is his first since writing that novel, which elevated him as an Author, and greatly expanded his audience. This book is the latest of his series that feature Jonathan, Flavia, and the balance of the Art Theft Squad, and I enjoyed it than any other episode. His skills from Fingerpost are evident here, and the briefer work is the beneficiary.
    This ongoing storyline is light fare if compared to Fingerpost, but a comparison would be without merit, for these are a group of novellas and not a singular expansive work. This addition to the series is much stronger than previous works. The dialogue is sharper, the wit clever, and most importantly, original. Like Michael Dibdin who Authors the Aurelio Zen series, Mr. Pears sustained the tension throughout the work. The plot twists were well placed, and benefited from the 40 plus years the story uses to unwind itself.
    This book is clearly the last, as we have known the series, Mr. Pears seems to be making irrevocable changes, but future works will branch from this work, and the potential for further originality of plot without the loss of the familiar, is clearly their for Mr. Pears to create. I thought his handling of the adjustment to the series was particularly well managed. He did not resort to melodrama, rather he begins a transition that is logical, untainted by literary cliché, and will give new life to a series that has steadily improved.
    Good reading, good fun, enjoy. 978-0743212571 The latest installment from Iain Pears, and not a disappointment. The heroine, Flavia Di Stefano and her former roommate/current husband Jonathan Argyll once again dive into an art history mystery set in beautifully described Italy. This time a mystery painting and a cleverly planned daylight robbery move the novel along.
    This story artfully intertwines the lives of Mary Verney, (everyones favorite art thief) with that of Taddeo Bottando Flavia's boss, and the handy work of the two detectives. Taddeo actually takes center stage in this novel for a while, which is a refreshing change of pace. We learn about how he became a part of Italy's Art Theft Squad, and how he plans to leave it.
    The book also holds two major surprises, both dealing with issues close to Flavia. Iain's latest may be his greatest, and certainly leaves us hanging on for the next novel in this series of Art History Mysteries. 978-0743212571

    From the acclaimed author of An Instance of the Fingerpost (may well be the best 'historical mystery' ever written, said The Boston Globe) comes a luminous new Jonathan Argyll/Flavia di Stefano crime novel set against the richly evocative backdrop of Rome and Tuscany. In his first new novel since An Instance of the Fingerpost became an international bestseller, Iain Pears transports us to Rome, where an impudent thief has stolen a politically sensitive painting on loan from a foreign museum. Summoned to see the prime minister, Flavia di Stefano, acting head of Italy's Art Theft Squad, is told to retrieve the painting without publicity or payment of ransom. But does the prime minister mean what he says? And why was this particular painting stolen? Faced with a case sure to cause her grief, Flavia turns to her mentor, General Taddeo Bottando, who has a wholly unexpected view of the situation. Flavia's husband of four weeks, art historian Jonathan Argyll, is busy, meanwhile, with a mission of his own. As a gift to the soon to retire Bottando, Jonathan will track down the provenance of a small Renaissance painting, an Immaculate Conception, now hanging on Bottando's wall. Who owned the painting over the years, and how did it come into Bottando's hands? Flavia's search for an art thief soon becomes a hunt for a killer, while Jonathan's probe uncovers some startling secrets and an unlikely alliance as poignant as it is surprising. Absorbing, witty, ingeniously plotted, The Immaculate Deception is stylish entertainment from a justly celebrated author. The Immaculate Deception

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