What might have happened to the Mona Lisa when it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 and stayed missing for two years?
Art historian Luke Perrone has been obsessed with the history of the Mona Lisa ever since learning that his great-grandfather Vincenzo Peruggia was the man who stole it from the Louvre. When he's contacted by an Italian professor who claims to know the location of Vincenzo's journal, Luke immediately drops everything and flies to Florence. There, he becomes drawn into two mysteries: one from the past (why did Peruggia steal the painting?) and one from the present (why has everyone who's recently encountered the journal died?). As he unravels the story of the first, he becomes more deeply embroiled in the second and begins to fear for his own safety—especially when he finds out he’s being watched. With the help of a beautiful American woman; an INTERPOL agent; and a famous art forger he meets in Paris, Luke begins to wonder whether the painting hanging in the Louvre, returned after the theft, is even the true Mona Lisa. Someone clearly cares enough about the answer to keep killing those who know about the journal, so Luke must rush to find the answers before he’s next. Through Vincenzo’s story as well as occasional chapters that share background on supporting characters, Santlofer crafts a layered and absorbing art mystery, complete with exciting action scenes and beautiful descriptions of the city of Florence and its art as well as Paris and Nice. It’s the human story at the heart of it, though, that really elevates the novel. Vincenzo’s motives for art theft are both pure and heart-rending, and Luke, flawed and struggling, seems to innately grasp what the person behind the recent violent deaths cannot: A work of art, no matter how precious, cannot be worth more than a human life.
A must for fans of Dan Brown and Arturo Perez-Reverte.