This book describes the theft of Edvard Munch's The Scream from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 and the search by undercover agents to recover it. Two thieves drive up in a stolen car, put up a ladder they had hidden the night before, break a window, and in less than two minutes, drive off with the painting worth over $70 million. What follows is part true crime and part adventure story. Charley Hill, an undercover agent at Scotland Yard, masquerades as a man in the employ of the Getty Museum in order to trick the thieves into coming out in the open so negotiations to recover the painting can begin. Interwoven with the narrative of the theft of The Scream are descriptions of other art thefts, discussions of security issues for museums and the dangers and perils of undercover work.
In compelling prose, Edward Dolnick describes a true-life adventure of art theft. The characters are well-described: the thieves dangerous and alarming and the undercover agents clever yet vulnerable. This creates plenty of tension and suspense in the narrative. Readers who enjoy reading about art crime might also enjoy the nonfiction titles The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art by Matthew Hart and The Art of the Steal by Christopher Mason as well as the fiction titles The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa by Robert Noah and The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez- Reverte.
Reviewed by mc, 3/07. Other reviews by mc.