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The Immaculate Deception
by Iain Pears
ISBN 0743212576 / 9780743212571 / 0-7432-1257-6
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From the acclaimed author of "An Instance of the Fingerpost" ("may well be the best 'historical mystery' ever written," said "The Boston Globe)" comes a luminous new Jonathan Argyll/Flavia di Stefano crime novel set against the richly evocative backdrop of Rome and Tuscany.
In his first new novel since "An Instance of the Fingerpost" became an international bestseller, Iain Pears transports us to Rome, where an impudent thief has stolen a politically sensitive painting on loan from a foreign museum.
Summoned to see the prime minister, Flavia di Stefano, acting head of Italy's Art Theft Squad, is told to retrieve the painting without publicity or payment of ransom. But does the prime minister mean what he says? And why was this particular painting stolen? Faced with a case sure to cause her grief, Flavia turns to her mentor, General Taddeo Bottando, who has a wholly unexpected view of the situation.
Flavia's husband of four weeks, art historian Jonathan Argyll, is busy, meanwhile, with a mission of his own. As a gift to the soon-to-retire Bottando, Jonathan will track down the provenance of a small Renaissance painting, an Immaculate Conception, now hanging on Bottando's wall. Who owned the painting over the years, and how did it come into Bottando's hands?
Flavia's search for an art thief soon becomes a hunt for a killer, while Jonathan's probe uncovers some startling secrets and an unlikely alliance as poignant as it is surprising. Absorbing, witty, ingeniously plotted, "The Immaculate Deception" is stylish entertainment from a justly celebrated author. [via]