Stealing Mona Lisa

Written by Carson Morton
Review by Monica E. Spence

Few people know that 2011 is the centennial of one of the greatest art heists in history: the theft of Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” from the wall of the Louvre in Paris. Stealing Mona Lisa is a fictional account of the crime.

The book opens in 1925. Marquis Eduardo de Valfierno, the mastermind of the theft, is dying as the book opens. Well-experienced in fleecing the gullible and greedy nouveau riche, he tells his story to a young newspaper reporter in order to “confess” to his crime. The story is then told as a flashback, opening in 1910 Buenos Aires, where the Marquis has successfully sold yet another painting to longtime customer Mr. Joshua Hart, an American multimillionaire. The Marquis finds himself drawn to Ellen, Hart’s young and lovely wife. Though the relationship is folly, his life and Mrs. Hart’s intertwine, until she decides to leave her husband.

In his novel, Morton brings together an odd cast of characters: an accomplished con artist, a man who started life as a Parisian street orphan, a Spanish forger, a beautiful American woman with a penchant for picking pockets, and an unloved wife of a robber baron. Valfierno’s insane plan of stealing the world’s most famous painting succeeds, but hot on the trail is a French detective looking for a promotion.

Throw in a devastating flood, the Paris sewers, multiple copies of the painting, and more twists than the Seine, and you have an enjoyable novel from a talented debut author. The book will be released in August, the anniversary of the theft. I recommend it.