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The Raphael Affair


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About the Author

Iain Pears was born in 1955. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, he has worked as a journalist, an art historian, and a television consultant in England, France, Italy, and the United States. He is the author of seven highly praised detective novels, a book of art history, and countless articles on artistic, financial, and historical subjects, as well as the international bestseller An Instance of the Fingerpost He lives in Oxford, England.


Pity the rather overfed Gen. Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad. An excellent, unknown Raphael was smuggled out of Rome hidden under a painting by the heroically second-rate artist Mantini. When it's eventually recovered at great cost by the Italian government and the Museo Nazionale, Bottando's peaceable existence in the Eternal City is further disturbed by forgery, arson, murder, government bureaucracy and the occasionally overzealous aid of his beautiful assistant, Flavia di Stefano, and British art historian Jonathan Argyll. Art historian Pears ( The Discovery of Painting ) provides one twist too many in his first novel, but presumably as this projected series continues his grasp of the genre will grow surer. His command of the intricacies of Italian life, art history and the licit and illicit trade in masterworks needs no improvement: although not all artists or organizations mentioned are real, none are improbable. Qua mystery, The Raphael Affair is very good; as cultural explication, it is superlative. (Oct.)

Thrills and excitement enter this first novel when a British art dealer discovers a Raphael portrait. After an astounding auction, the painting finds its way to a national museum in Rome, where its acquisition solidifies the director's reputation. Taddeo Bottando and his favorite assistant Flavia, both of the national art theft squad, become suspicious when a vagrant art student's story of fraud and the jottings of a famous forger come to their attention. Clever research, museum politics, and foreign setting add to the story's interest, especially for those who enjoy art and art history.

"Masterful and calls for an encore."-Houston Post"Impressive."-The (London) Times"[A] clever thriller...Pears balances politics, love and danger nicely in a plot that has a cunning and satisfactory outcome."-Sunday Times"Presents a world the author knows well in the satisfying way Margaret Truman and Dick Francis set their mysteries in milieus they know."-Associated Press

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