GIOTTO'S HAND by Iain Pears


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 Now that fledgling art dealer Jonathan Argyll has finally consummated his rather foolish romance with Flavia di Stefano, of Rome's Art Theft Department (The Last Judgment, 1996, etc.), the two of them can finally turn their full-time energies to tracking down stolen Italian masters. But this time they don't even need to nose out secrets; the secrets come to them. First there's a tearful confession from Maria Fancelli that 30 years ago she helped her seducer, shadowy English dealer Geoffrey Forster, steal an Uccello; then, after Jonathan flies to England and phones Forster, there's a grudging invitation to discuss the painting, which has to be canceled when Jonathan finds Forster dead; finally, there are statements by two independent witnesses that finger Forster for unsolved thefts of paintings by Fra Angelico and Pollaiulo--and strongly suggest he may have been the wily master thief Flavia's boss, General Taddeo Bottando, has dubbed Giotto. Can Jonathan, short of documentation when somebody breaks the police seals on Forster's house and burns his papers, tie Forster in to all of Giotto's 31 suspected thefts--and Pears's trademark, another sensational centuries-old art find--in time to save Bottando from the officious bureaucrat who's baying for his resignation? As a final twist makes clear, collecting all that evidence is easy compared to the climactic challenge Jonathan will have to meet. Urbane and amusing as ever, with surprising new depths of temptation for the hero--though series veterans won't be fooled.

Pub Date: July 8th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81460-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997


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