(British, 1955– )
What with monks, doctors, and even chefs solving crimes, it's a wonder we need a police force. In crime fiction's never-ending search for a new angle, Iain Pears settled on the world of art theft, drawing on his expertise as an art historian. His Jonathan Argyll series features an art historian scraping a living as a dealer and stumbling into various intrigues involving lost masterpieces. This enjoyable fare is enriched by its setting in Rome and other parts of Italy. The recent Immaculate Deception (2000), about the theft of a priceless painting from a Rome gallery on the eve of a major exhibition, is as good a place to start as any, but any of the art-world mystery series will satisfy lovers of a good yarn, no previous arts experience necessary. An Instance of the Fingerpost (1997) is an unexpectedly brilliant departure—intellectually ambitious and richly detailed, this is a murder mystery set against the backdrop of the scientific, political, and religious upheavals of Restoration England.
Umberto Eco, Lawrence Norfolk, Peter Ackroyd RV