From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Two experts on diamonds--Selby wrote his master's thesis on them, Campbell authored Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones--turn in a top-notch true-crime read while dissecting the plot, the payoff, and the post-op investigation of a group of professional thieves who ripped off a supposedly impregnable vault in Antwerp, the heart of the world's diamond trade. As Selby and Campbell probe the personalities and mechanics behind the 2003 heist, readers will learn plenty about diamonds, their value and handling, the ubiquitous black market, the history of De Beers, the intricacies of insurance, and the safeguards (or lack thereof) meant to secure a constant flow of cut and uncut diamonds. Readers will also become familiar with the elite fraternity of thieves determined to carry out the impossible crime, known as the "School of Turin," and it's hard not to root for them. The minutiae of the preparation, the drama of the robbery, and the details of the investigation are all equally fascinating, supplying myriad surprises all the way through the machinations of the Belgium justice system (even now, the loot is still at large). Like a diamond, this true-life caper is clear, colorful, and brilliant. 24 b&w illus.
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*Starred Review* In February 2003, thieves broke into the Diamond Center in Antwerp—one of the most secure diamond facilities in the world—and absconded with merchandise worth, according to some reports, in the neighborhood of $500 million. This excellent true-crime account lays out the heist in precise detail (although some elements of the crime, such as how the crooks got through a combination-locked vault door, remain shrouded in mystery). The thieves, led by notorious Italian jewel thief Leonardo Notarbartolo, were a clever bunch—this was an audacious, complex, and well-planned operation—but they also made some really dumb mistakes, like throwing away bags of trash with incriminating evidence inside them. Fans of caper books and movies will be in seventh heaven here, not only for the detail-rich descriptions of the crime but also for the narrative style. This is an exciting and suspenseful story, and it reads like the best caper fiction, with lively characters and some surprising twists. Readers familiar with Donald E. Westlake’s Dortmunder novels will note many common elements here (except this heist itself actually works). Comparisons to Ocean’s Eleven are obvious, too, although the less-tricked-up, more procedural The Score is perhaps a more appropriate filmic companion. A must-read for true-crime fans. --David Pitt
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