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The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece Paperback – June 27, 2006


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The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece + Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures + The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060531185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060531188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The little-known world of art theft is compellingly portrayed in Dolnick's account of the 1994 theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. The theft was carried out with almost comical ease at Norway's National Gallery in Oslo on the very morning that the Winter Olympics began in that city. Despite the low-tech nature of the crime, the local police were baffled, and Dolnick (Down the Great Unknown; Madness on the Couch) makes a convincing case that the fortunate resolution of the investigation was almost exclusively due to the expertise, ingenuity and daring of the "rescue artist" of the title: Charley Hill, a Scotland Yard undercover officer and former Fulbright scholar who has made recovering stolen art treasures his life's work. Hill is a larger-than-life figure who seems lifted from the pages of Elmore Leonard, although his adversaries in this inquiry are fairly pedestrian. While the path to the painting's retrieval is relatively straightforward once some shady characters put the word out that they can get their hands on it, the narrative's frequent detours to other crimes and engaging escapades from Hill's past elevate this work above last year's similar The Irish Game by Matthew Hart. 16 pages of b&w and 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–A compelling account of the 1994 theft of one of the world's most famous paintings, The Scream. Dolnick focuses on the hero of the case, Scotland Yard's Art Squad specialist Charley Hill. Because of Hill's earlier success in retrieving stolen art treasures, he was charged with the difficult job of locating the painting and successfully retrieving it in its original condition. While the author keeps readers in suspense as he digresses frequently to tell the story of other notorious art thefts and art thieves, diligent readers will be treated to a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat account of the painting's rescue. Along the way, Dolnick imparts a great deal of information not only about Edvard Munch, but also about the art world's surprisingly lax security measures and the lack of motivation on the part of authorities charged with retrieving art treasures. In spite of the asides, this is a tightly woven, fast-paced story. Teens interested in art and/or investigative journalism will enjoy this real-life whodunit.–Catherine Gilbride, Farifax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Edward Dolnick is the author of Down the Great Unknown and the Edgar Award-winning The Rescue Artist. A former chief science writer at the Boston Globe, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. He lives with his wife near Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

These are exciting stories, told with humor and enthusiasm.
Student of Art Theft
It is highly recommended to anyone who is interested in art, interested in true crime, interested in a good detective story, or just interested in a good read.
Jennifer Burgis
What I had to do first was turn to the pictures to see if they really looked like Cary Grant.
John Matlock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Student of Art Theft on July 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Using the 1994 theft in Oslo of Edvard Munch's The Scream as the foundation, Edward Dolnick paints a vivid picture of the world of art crime. He describes the thefts and occasional recovery of other great masterpieces and he destroys the myth of crooks with the charm and looks of Cary Grant, Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan. His interviews with cops, nobility, thieves, museum officials, fences, gallery owners and snitches reveal a raging war where fortunes are won and lost in a clash of class and culture. These are exciting stories, told with humor and enthusiasm. But the real delight is the central figure, Charley Hill, The Rescue Artist. Trained to be a historian (Fulbright Scholar), soldier (Vietnam vet), teacher (Belfast, N.I.) and Anglican priest (King's College, London) before choosing a career at Scotland Yard, Hill is a bundle of quirks and enigmas. And he is a hero we can admire. Going undercover with only his nerve and quick wits for protection, he has recovered works by, amomg others, Goya, Vermeer, Cranach, Metsu, Titian and Munch. He has a deep appreciation for the art and he relishes his role as a bridge between the tony society of the art collectors and the brutal gangs who steal the great works. This is the "true story" and it will grab and hold you from beginning to end.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Diego Delvalle on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I was told that it would be a fast read yet I found myself reading and rereading certain sections just for the enjoyment of the mood; prolonging the promenade as long as possible. Hill is a narcissist extraordinaire and at certain points does remind one of the town bully but his love of adventure and admiration of the paintings he pursues (as well as his respect for the shrewdness of the criminal mind)was charming. I agree with previous reviews that the book tended to ramble at times, briefly, but not to the extent where one would put it down. It's and interesting and (for the most part) exciting read and you will walk away with a bit more knowledge of the world of investment paintings.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michele W. Missner on July 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished Edward Dolnick's new book, _The Rescue Artist_. It is a fun read filled with madcap, Damon Runyonesque characters who would be hard to make up. This book, with the theft of Edvard Munch's "The scream" as its main story, covers the underside of the art world. As a person who enjoys art and goes to museums, I certainly never imagined that works of art would be held as ransom by political groups. Dolnick delves into the hows and why of art heists, and how detectives track down the paintings most importantly, and often the thieves. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good adventure "story". You don't even have to be interested in art!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on May 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Edward Dolnick has turned the story of the theft of Edvard Munch's famous painting "Scream" from a museum on Oslo into a great character study of the English detective who gets it back. Two mystery men steal a ladder, climb a wall, break a window, and make off with the poorly-defended painting.

Detective Charlie Hill uses his half-English, half-American upbringing to impersonate an employee of California's Getty Museum interested in ransoming the painting. James Bond-type intrigue ensues - missed connections, interfering local police, thuggish bodyguards, aimless drives through the middle of the night, fistfights, etc. etc.

Dolnick writes with humor and verve; the story moves speedily and only occasional descends to cliche. The greatest strength of the book is its some heroic depiction of Hill and some sidekick characters. My only slight disappointment was that the "whodunnit" revelations at the end seem like an offhand afterthought. The motivations, plans, and intentions of the actual thieves are given minimal space; I was left feeling a bit teased (teased, but satisfied).
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By kitjank VINE VOICE on October 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a book I would not have purchased if I had not heard the author on the radio. I am so glad I did. While the book does jump around a bit, I didn't really find it distracting as the story and Charlie Hill are so fascinating! Even beyond the theft itself, I found myself wanting to know more about Edvard Munch. If you have a chance, read a bio on the artist first and then read this book. It's very interesting to know what Munch was trying to convey in his painting and give more insight as to why the painting is so valuable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By gina from bay area on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book that hooks you from the beginning. However, there seems to be a lot of jumping around from topic to topic within chapters and some unnecessarily long descriptions that diverge from the topic at hand, Norway and the theft of The Scream. All in all, it's a decent recommendation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on August 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There were two things that struck me about this book.

First of course was the setting in the world of the very rich where art thieves steal priceless paintings. What I had to do first was turn to the pictures to see if they really looked like Cary Grant. Nope!

Second was the comparison with a lot of other undercover police books that have come out in recent years. Most have dealt with drug enforcement. The world of the high end art thief seems a lot more civilized a place than some back alley heroin warehouse.

Mr. Dolnich has written this book around the theft of a painting in Norway. He uses this central theme as a way to educate us all in the overall history of the big time art stealing.

This is a book well written about an unusual subject and filled with some very interesting people.
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