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Death and Restoration (Art History Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2000
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Like An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears's Death and Restoration is grounded in a richly cultured vision rife with references to European history, art, and cuisine. And, though it represents the sixth novel in Pears's Jonathan Argyll series, the author subtly informs new readers of the key relationships and the past histories of his characters within the first three chapters. Once again, Argyll and his soon-to-be wife, Flavia di Stefano, are enmeshed in the Italian art world: Flavia, as a member of the Rome police's art squad and Argyll as a professor of art history.
The suspense of the novel is sustained by the careful revelation of the central art-theft plot; in turn, each major character becomes the narrative center and offers an expanded understanding of the events at San Giovanni. While Argyll is troubled over his fiancée's frequent absences just prior to their wedding, Flavia feels compelled to keep odd hours. She's certain that her old nemesis, Mary Verney, has returned to Rome with the intention of committing a major new theft. And Verney, readers soon learn, is herself in jeopardy. She must steal a Madonna icon from the monastery--despite the close scrutiny she faces from the Rome police force--because the sadistic Mikis Charanis has kidnapped Verney's granddaughter, 8-year-old Louise, and he will only release the child when Verney has acquired the artifact from San Giovanni. Underlying each character's concerns is the mystery of the Madonna itself. Why does Charanis covet this piece over the more valuable, though still dubious, Caravaggio that is also in the monastery? In the end, the novel is a perfect melding of a tightly composed mystery plot, witty dialogue, and a realistic sense of character, all flowing from an intellectual's appreciation for the finer things in life. For readers who discovered Pears's fiction through An Instance of the Fingerpost, the Argyll series--particularly Death and Restoration--offers much to satiate the need for his pleasantly baroque sensibilities. Other works in the Argyll series include The Raphael Affair, The Titian Committee, The Bernini Bust, The Last Judgement, and Giotto's Hand. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Pears, an art historian and author of the acclaimed historical novel, An Instance of the Fingerpost (1997), imbues his light-hearted art-world mystery series set in Italy (Giotto's Hand, 1997) with an enthusiast's love of his subject. Here, Jonathan Argyll, art dealer and lecturer, and his lover, Flavia di Stefano, an officer with Rome's Art Theft Department, investigate the theft of an ancient, seemingly worthless iconic painting of the Madonna from the Monastery of San Giovanni and the apparently related attack on the head monk. As Flavia investigates the theft, she runs into legendary art thief Mary Verney, icon dealer Peter Burckhardt and Daniel Menzies, a hot-tempered art restorer who is cleaning the monastery's second-rate Caravaggio. We learn that Mikis Charanis, the power-hungry son of Mary's former lover, has kidnapped her granddaughter; release is contingent on Mary stealing the icon for him. Then Peter Burckhardt is murdered, and the police must scramble to find motive and killer. After Jonathan learns the stolen icon is "Our Lady," venerated by the people in the neighborhood for saving Rome from the plague long ago, he traces the icon's astonishing history and uncovers the monastery's unpleasant secrets. Although Flavia's suspects escape arrest, Jonathan fingers the real thief?and the motive?in an amusing finale. Pears again achieves a delicate, sure balance with a book simultaneously witty and instructive.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As with his other books in this series, thoroughly enjoyable.
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I feel like I have gone on an exotic vacation every time I read one.Read more