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by Aaron Elkins
ISBN 0380731622 / 9780380731626 / 0-380-73162-2
› Find signed collectible books: 'Loot'
The gifted writer Aaron Elkins takes a break from his series about forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver (Twenty Blue Devils was the outing prior to Loot's appearance) to introduce a new sleuth, Boston art expert Ben Revere. Revere is a retired curator who helps the police when he's not supporting lost causes like the Red Sox. The shapely and exciting story begins in April 1945, when a German soldier steals a truckload of already stolen paintings and is killed by the Russians before he can trade them to the Americans for his freedom.
Fifty years later, a Valezquez painting from this bundle of loot arrives at a Boston pawnshop run by a friend of Revere's. A murder during an attempted robbery and a guilty conscience send Revere off on a chase across Europe, where a rich old Viennese count, a Hungarian swindler, and the ubiquitous Russian mafia all offer clues and/or threats regarding the remaining paintings. Revere shares with the best of the fictional world of art detectives (such as Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy and Nicholas Kilmer's Fred Taylor) an obvious love for and knowledge of what they seek. Here's Elkins on Revere's first impressions of the Velazquez:
You knew at once that, despite the quaintness of costume, or trappings, or pose, this was a real person you were looking at--or rather, was looking at you--and you couldn't help feeling that if you could only look at him long enough, or in the right way, you might make a connection, an actual human connection, over all those years.That's why we look at pictures--and read books. --Dick Adler [via]