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Murder at the National Gallery [Hardcover]

Margaret Truman
2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 2 1996
Continuing her success in Capital Crimes, the bestselling author of First Ladies takes readers behind the exhibits at one of D.C.'s most popular attractions. When a senior curator at the National Gallery discovers a lost Caravaggio, he concocts a masterly scheme to exhibit and exploit the masterpiece, which escalates into murder as an art form.

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From Publishers Weekly

Truman, daughter of Harry and Bess, centers the latest in her Capitol Crimes series, starring Washington, D.C., insiders Annabel and Mac Reed, in the often corrupt world of international art. Although the title incident doesn't occur until nearly the last chapter, the pace of the preceding action is breathless. As the National Gallery prepares for a special Caravaggio exhibit, senior curator Luther Mason happens to "discover" a lost Caravaggio masterpiece while in Italy. Installing the original in the exhibit but making plans to replace it afterwards, Mason, aided by cultural attache Carlo Giliberti, commissions two forgeries?one to send back to Italy and the other to sell to an underground art dealer who believes he is buying the original. In the meantime, Mason must deal with his scrounging son, Julian, and his mistress and gallery assistant, Lynn Marshall, who is angling for a quick promotion. Along for the ride is well-known art critic, the asexual M. Scott Pims, who adores intrigue. After four murders, the players who remain meet for a thrilling chase from Rome to Abruzzi. The amiable Reeds?Annabel is a gallery owner and Mac a law school professor?are in top form here.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA. Truman introduces readers to an art world in which theft, forgery, blackmail, and murder are everyday occurrences, and big money is the catalyst. Senior curator of the National Gallery of Art, Luther Mason, is planning a brilliant exhibition of Caravaggio paintings, culminating with the "surprising" discovery of a work that has been lost for hundreds of years. The commission of two expert forgeries of the lost painting propel Mason, the staff of the museum, the wife of the Vice-President of the United States, and the government of Italy into a dangerous treasure hunt. Truman writes comfortably and simply. By using a modern literary device, she forces readers to synthesize events and information presented in the beginning of the book into the plot. An entertaining mystery.?Debbie Hyman, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Man Turns to Crime Sept. 26 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Murder at the National Gallery, Margaret Truman examines the character flaws that can make a relatively mild-mannered, relatively good man, Luther Mason, turn to crime. We get to meet his cold mother, his ambitious ex-wife, his controlling girlfriend, his spoiled son, and also the delightful Annabel Reed-Smith, commissioned by the Vice-President's wife to work with Luther on the National Gallery's prestigious exhibit of the tempestuous Italian painter Carivaggio's work.

It's Annabel that helps to solve the mystery. We get to experience her joys and trials as an art gallery owner. We travel with her to Italy and learn about the amazing collections of magnificent art that exist in that country. We also hold our breath when Annabel gets mixed up in Luther Mason's crazy schemes and comes close to losing her life.

In my opinion, Murder at the National Gallery started slow. However, I felt happy that I stayed with the story because it heated up nicely as it progressed until I felt very grateful for the wide range of characters, an insider's look into the world of fine art forgeries, behind the scenes at the Capital, the Italian mob's connection with fine art, and a suspenseful mystery.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Prejudiced, unmitigated nonsense Dec 22 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I wish Amazon had a more detailed rating in the negative: "one-star" is still mild for this book, that would deserve a "minus-6-stars-deluxe" one. I shall give this one star for the cost of the paper the book's printed on. I took it up, out of curiosity for the author's surname and background, during a temporary lack of reading material; then, I read the customer review of July 11, 1997 ("Tired and Trite... Overweight Readers Beware!")and I am adding my own. The only quality of this book is that reading bad literature makes you appreciate the good one you are used to. The writer babbles here of an all-Italian plot to steal in Italy masterpieces of Italian art and smuggle them into the United States; murder ensues. The plot is conventional, the use of the language is poor (despite the high-snub schools the writer was sent to), the characters are stale stereotypes. The author displays a visceral antagonism towards, and a biliously prejudiced opinion about, a foreign country and population she evidently knows nothing about. Surely, her ostentatious contempt cannot be based on any personal experience. Her prejudice and ignorance show through her berating of one of the best painters in Italian history, admired by everybody, on the puritanical ground that his lifestyle was less than orderly. Nobody, in this book, appears to be good guy, trustworthy and reliable unless he/she is a WASP, the bearer of an Anglo-Saxon name and the descendant of a sure-fire Anglo-Saxon ancestry. This is sheer prudery. Having an insider's knowledge of the Washington scene doth not automatically a good writer make. I am happy to have never heard you singing, Miss Truman: if your voice were on a par with your writing, it must have been torture on an attuned ear; and I think to remember that at least one fearless musical critic did give you such a review. I think the public bore with you just because of your birth certificate.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The old switch-a-roo !!!! Jan. 8 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The lost Carvaggio is discovered and a certain National Gallery curator has big ideas for its future. Why not copy it a couple of times, sell the fakes and take it with him to some far off place where he may enjoy the three r's for the rest of his life? He could let go of his useless family, nagging ex-wives and the daily D.C. grind. Can he get away with it? Will someone or something interrupt the perfect plan for the big switch-a-roo?
Truman writes a predictable story that is mildly enjoyable. However, the characters she uses have absolutely no personality distinctions. It is extremely difficult for dear reader to draw a mental image of each character because she makes almost no attempt to give them any physically identifiable distinctions! This novel is somewhat discouraging for want of this reviewer to peruse another Truman story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Overlong unless You're a Caravaggio cultie April 8 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Truman knows Washington, and she's done her homework on the National Gallery and the life of sixteenth century painter Caravaggio. The plot turns on a blockbuster Caravaggio exhibition at the National and bounces from Italy to Washington and the underground world of stolen masterpieces. Truman's series of crime novels set in Washington ring true to anyone who has spent time there. She knows the neighborhoods, the restaurants, the atmosphere, and the attitude. But the novel is only average. The pages keep turning, the characters are thinly-drawn, and the plot is adequate. The story is overlong. The final third of the book builds toward a predictable denouement that is fun to read but would have benefited from judicious cutting. Thirty pages less would have been much more.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Long on story, short on mystery . . . April 1 2002
By H. Male
Format:Paperback
Luther Mason, respected senior curator at the National Gallery, hatches a complicated plan to "discover" a long lost Caravaggio painting in Italy, brings it to Washington to be a part of a Caravaggio exhibit and has 2 forgeries made, one of which will be sold and passed off as the original to a San Francisco mobster thug/art connoisseur who happens to be bankrolling Luther's activities to get the painting in the first place. Whew. . . It's an interesting story at times, but there are a lot of characters to keep track of. The last third of the book is where most of the mystery and action occurs. I would not recommend this book if you want something fast-paced and suspenseful.
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