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Immaculate Deception [Paperback]

Iain Pears
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition --  
Hardcover CDN $36.79  
Paperback --  
Paperback, July 19 2001 --  
Mass Market Paperback --  
Audio, Cassette, Audiobook CDN $49.87  

Book Description

July 19 2001 Jonathan Argyll Mystery

When an important, politically sensitive painting is kidnapped in Rome, Flavia di Stefano, acting head of the Italian Art Theft Squad, is told to get it back at all costs – without causing any embarrassment to the country and without paying the ransom. Put in an impossible position, she turns for help to her old mentor General Taddeo Bottando, who casts a wholly unexpected light on the crime.

In the meantime, her husband, English art historian Jonathan Argyll, embarks on an investigation of his own. As a gift to Bottando, he decides to establish the provenance of a small Renaissance painting, an Immaculate Conception, currently hanging on the wall of the general's apartment.

Absorbing and ingeniously plotted, The Immaculate Deception is both a fascinating art-history puzzle and a gripping murder mystery as the search for the truth uncovers shocking secrets from the past and leads Argyll and Flavia into the path of some very dangerous enemies indeed.

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From Amazon

A good working rule for the police is to have as little as possible to do with politicians, but Flavia, acting head of the Rome Art Squad, finds herself deprived of that luxury when the Prime Minister involves himself in the case of a painting hijacked for ransom... Iain Pears' new thriller The Immaculate Deception picks up the story of Flavia and her British art-dealer husband Jonathan at a point where they are thinking seriously about the rest of their lives--Flavia is pregnant and Jonathan is in the process of selling off his remaining stock. The last thing they need is for Flavia to find herself at the heart of a major scandal involving illegal handovers of ransom, the last gasp of 1970s terrorism and a performance artist who has drowned in a vat of plaster. Meanwhile, Jonathan sets out to track down an unattributed painting owned by Flavia's former boss, and uncovers some neat little mysteries of his own... Art scholarship and police work are not that like each other, but Iain Pears wittily explores what analogies between them there are; he is intelligent about art, and marriage and Italian politics. This is a worthy addition to a charming series. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Jonathan Argyll, accompanied by his new wife, Flavia di Stefano, makes his seventh appearance in this confusing case of a stolen painting, murder and intrigue, following 1998's well-received An Instance of the Fingerpost. Antonio Sabauda, the Italian prime minister, asks Flavia, now acting head of the national art squad, to recover Claude Lorraine's Landscape with Cephalis and Procris, stolen from an Italian museum while on loan from the Louvre. Flavia, however, must not use public money for the requested ransom. As Flavia's former boss, Gen. Taddeo Bottando, has told her, "Prime ministers? Oh, they can ruin your life." She finds this is true on many levels. Meanwhile, Argyll, the art expert, is snooping into the provenance of a small painting owned by Bottando. Soon Argyll and Flavia find that almost everyone they talk to in their respective investigations has a hidden agenda. Who is behind all the shady goings-on in the art world? Is it Prime Minister Sabauda, General Bottando or another person with something to protect? Ultimately, as people's motives become clearer and one corpse after another turns up, Argyll and Flavia find that they have to make some very disturbing choices involving their own sense of morality. A personal secret that Flavia harbors until the end adds some intrigue. While the author nicely portrays the Italian art world, readers looking for a scintillating mystery will have to seek elsewhere.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
One morning, a fine May morning in Rome, when the sun was beaming through the clouds of carbon monoxide and dust and giving a soft, fresh feel to the day, Flavia di Stefano sat immobile in a vast traffic jam that began in the Piazza del Popolo and ended somewhere near the Piazza Venezia. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading, intelligently written May 17 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are times when even the most sophisticated readers need a break and want to read what I call an "airplane" book--"beach" book would also be a good description--at the same time it's hard not to get annoyed with poor writing, unbelievable dialogue and dumb plots. If you've had this problem, try Pears' books. This is the first of the series I've read, and found a good plot with an interesting smidgen of art history and modern Italian culture woven in. I had the added bonus of reading it during a flight home from a 2-1/2 week sojourn in Tuscany and Umbria! This book bears no resemblance to "Instance of the Fingerpost," which was a serious literary work; this is for fun!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Entry April 9 2002
I am a great fan of the Jonathan Argyll series as written by Iain Pears. You get a terrific plot, some wonderful inside knowledge of the world of art, and art crimes, and a luscious taste of Italy. Let's not spoil the fun by dissecting the story.
Pears has a real talent for believable dialog. His characters are understated and real. They are clever in wit and brilliant in intellect. It's fun to follow them through a mystery. Since Pears is a legitimate academic, you get a little free art education along the way!
Warning -- This series is addictive.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read! Feb. 1 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the first Flavia di Stefano book that I've read, and it won't be the last. Flavia is pulled against her wishes (and against much advice) into the disappearance of a painting borrowed from the Louvre. An already complicated matter becomes worse when it seems that there's a lot more than a simple art theft going on. Strong characterizations, deft plotting, and a lot of enjoyable atmosphere.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Entertainment Dec 14 2001
This is the latest installment of a mystery series starring the Italian detective Flavia di Stefano and her boyfriend, the art dealer/teacher Jonathan Argyll. These books are well written mysteries with good plots, attractive characters, and an element of screwball/romantic comedy. Pears has inverted the usual stereotypes by pairing a highly competent Italian woman with a somewhat flighty British man. Pears draws on his training as an art historian to base all the mysteries on art theft or fraud or something related to art.
The present book is a good addition to the series. Pears is inventive enough not to have lost momentum and has kept the professional and personal lives of his characters evolving in a way that prevents them from becoming stale. Good bedtime reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rome and its politics Feb. 20 2001
What an absolute joy to have another book by Iain Pears! All the old characters are here: Flavia di Stefano, now acting head of the art crimes squad; Jonathan Argyll, now her husband; Taddeo Bottando, about to retire; Mary Verney, the old nemesis as art thief; and so on. Intricate plotting, as usual, with sharply limned characters. And the usual zigzag of events and suspects. A bit confusing towards the end, but easily forgiven.
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