The Titian Committee

From  Elaine Pasquali
Title:  The Titian Committee
Author:  Iain Pears
Flavia di Stefano, an art historian working for Rome’s Art Theft Squad, investigates the murder of a member of Venice’s Titian Art Committee.  When another member is murdered, all remaining Committee members are suspect.  The plot is enhanced by the Venetian setting and tidbits about Titian and his art.

Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  Stephanie Cowell
Claude and Camille:  A Novel of Monet
This beautiful, bittersweet love story shows the impovished life of Impressionist painter, Claude Monet and his wife Camille-Leonie Doncieux. He left his seaside home and moved to Paris to make his fortune. She left her affluent home to become his muse, his wife, and to follow his dream.  Wealth and fame alluded Monet for most of his adult life, but Camille endured the hardships and his bouts with depression as she loved him.  The story depicts the Impressionist Movement in its infancy. The rejection and ridicule artists had to endure to gain acceptance and recognition in the insular art world was difficult. Near the end of his life Monet obtained his dream but his muse was no more.

Cezanne’s Quarry

From Rosemarie Jerome
author: Pope, Barbara Corrado
Cezanne’s Quarry
Solange Vernet has been found murdered. A young inexperienced magistrate, Bernard Martin, investigates the crime. Who was the beautiful Solange? Was her murder a crime of passion? Is the spurned artist Paul Cezanne guilty? He has a violent temper and his paintings speak of dark, gruesome deeds. Or was it her lover, Darwinian scholar Charles Westbury, who in a jealous rage took her life? Martin is a charming character whose stubborn quest for justice makes him an unassuming hero. The Blood of Lorraine is the sequel which tells more of Martin’s tale.

Just Kids

From Ellen Druda
author: Smith, Patti
 Just Kids
Patti Smith’s evocative memoir recounts her early days in New York City and her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. This National Book Award winning work is an accessible, easy read, yet full of imagery that stirs the imagination.  From her childhood in New Jersey, we follow her across the river to a bohemian city life in the psychedelic 60’s, mingling with soon- to- be famous painters, writers, and musicians.  This book will especially appeal to baby-boomers and music fans.

Priceless : how I went undercover to rescue the world’s stolen treasures

From Catherine Givens
author: Wittman, Robert K.
Priceless : how I went undercover to rescue the world’s stolen treasures
The new book, “Priceless”, by Robert K. Wittman is a fascinating memoir set in the dark world of art thievery and the black market.  Wittman, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, founded the Bureau’s chronically understaffed Art Crime Team.  Most FBI personnel, he explains, place a lower priority on the nabbing of art thieves, compared to the capturing of drug dealers and bank robbers.  Meanwhile, deeply appreciative of the cultural significance of art, he immerses himself in the study of Art History, to sharpen his ability to act the part of an astute art dealer.

He colorfully relates the conflicts that arise when agents whose values
differ are pitted against each other by bureaucratic hierarchies.  With
grace and wisdom, and a highly experienced eye on the prize, Wittman
navigates these obstacles, transcending would-be blockades to repeatedly recover the loot.

Time and again precious paintings and cultural artifacts, both domestic and international, are handed over by clueless crooks to undercover agents, as well as to Wittman.  The effort expended by all the undercover law enforcement players is awe-inspiring.  Meanwhile, the fact that our government places so little value on and assigns so few people to the recovery of stolen art is shocking.  And it explains why art thieves and unscrupulous dealers abound, displaying increasing levels of audacity.

 Full of action and suspense, this fast-paced book is bursting with
bigger-than-life villains, dumb and dumber criminals and unassuming heroes. It would make a fantastic movie.  But I highly recommend the book:  The author’s heartfelt revelations of his inner thoughts as he strives to return art to its rightful owners keep us rooting for him all the way.

Swan Thieves

From Catherine Given
author: Kostova, Elizabeth
Swan Thieves
As a favor to a friend, psychiatrist and amateur painter Andrew Marlow agrees to investigate the reason why well-known painter Robert Oliver violently attacked a canvas hanging in the National Gallery of Art.  Marlow’s new patient is clearly angry and hopeless, refusing to eat or talk, unable to sleep.

In rich detail, Kostova deftly interweaves the saga of Oliver’s troubled relationships with Marlow’s serpentine investigation, which leads him into the passionate realm of 19th-Century Parisian artists.

Kostova’s previous book, a best-selling vampire novel  entitled The Historian, garnered critical raves and a cult following.

She transports us deep within the quirky world of painters and academics, past and present.  Swan Thieves offers the reader aesthetically mesmerizing and suspenseful prose sure to delight visual types and fans of psychologically deconstructed crime fiction.