“Stealing Mona Lisa: A Mystery” by Carson Morton

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First-time novelist Carson Morton’s book, “Stealing Mona Lisa: A Mystery,” is an engaging mystery based on a real-life event – the theft in 1911 of the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa, from the Louvre in Paris. While the painting was eventually recovered and a culprit identified, there was some speculation as to whether more people were involved in the theft.

Morton takes one of these theories and crafts an engrossing crime caper involving the aristocrat Eduardo de Valfierno, a charming art thief and con man, and his quirky accomplices. De Valfierno conceives a plan so brilliant it seems possible he might even get away with it. With the help of an expert forger, whose true identity proves to be just one twist in the story, de Valfierno plans to steal the real Mona Lisa and sell six expertly-forged copies to six rich patrons, convincing each patron he is buying the original painting. The thieves are successful in stealing the real Mona Lisa, but an unexpected turn of events jeopardizes the thieves’ success, resulting in an intriguing question – which painting was returned to the Louvre, the real Mona Lisa or one of the forgeries?

If Morton’s fictional account of the theft sparks your interest in the real story, see “Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa” by R.A. Scotti. Readers interested in fiction about art theft and the art world may enjoy the Jonathan Argyll and Flavia di Stefano mystery series by Iain Pears, beginning with the first in the series, “The Raphael Affair.”

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