Book Review of Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton

Posted August 14, 2011 by Kara in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: August 2nd, 2011
Pages: 304
Genre: Adult Mystery
*I received a physical arc of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Stealing Mona Lisa: A MysteryStealing Mona Lisa: A Mystery by Carson Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

What happens when you mix a Parisian street orphan, a hot-tempered Spanish forger, a beautiful American pickpocket, an unloved wife, and one priceless painting?

The charming Eduardo de Valfierno makes a very respectable living in Argentina fleecing the nouveau rich—they pay him to steal valuable pieces of art, and Valfierno sells them flawless forgeries instead. But when Eduardo meets the beautiful Mrs. Hart on his latest con, he takes a risk that forces him back to the city he loved and left behind—Paris. There he assembles his team of con artists for their final and most ambitious theft, one that will enable them to leave the game forever: The Mona Lisa.

But when a member of the team turns up missing, and Mr. Hart shows up in Paris, Valfierno and his crew must stay one step ahead of a relentless police inspector, endure a devastating flood, and conquer their own doubts to keep the priceless painting in play—and survive.

Based on the actual theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, and published on the 100th anniversary of the crime, Stealing Mona Lisa is a sophisticated, engaging caper, complete with a richly imagined group of con artists and a historical mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.


Ultimately I ended up giving this book four stars instead of three. And I debated for awhile. But I have valid reasons. This book was memorable. There I said it. It was far from perfect, but I really think it was different and unique, and I kind of have an idea that I will remember it for years to come. The reason why I wanted to give it three stars instead of four was because I felt like the pacing was kind of all over the place.

This is a mystery. And I always thought that mysteries were supposed to be fun and suspenseful and quickly paced. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, because I can take it. But here’s the thing. There was an enormous amount of back story that was covered before the real plot(the theft of the Mona Lisa, or La Jaconde) got going. The characters were very important and pivotal to the story, but I wish all that backstory had been sprinkled throughout the plot rather than just slapped down at the beginning. And there were places where the author attempted to do that. And it worked, but there was still the issue of pacing because of the way the first half of the book was written. Maybe it would have been better to streamline some of it and cut a lot out. I have no idea, but something needed to be done and nothing was.

The last 100 pages or so were epic. Amazing. So suspenseful and exciting. I loved it and I devoured all of that in one sitting. I’m talking about the flood. That was some great story line. It was fantastic, but the whole story was great as soon as the theft happened. I was into it then for good.

I love details in my books and I really appreciate all that goes into the research. I know it’s difficult. I love vivid settings, and character development as much as the next person, but sometimes it can go too far. And I felt that it did here, but once the story gets going, it’s good. The details that went into the settings, i.e. The Louvre, Paris, Florence, etc. were all great.

There were a lot of things I loved about the book. The characters were great and I thought the banter between Emile and Julia was fantastic. And it was pretty funny too. And when it comes down to it, you can take all the technical aspects of a book and throw them out the window, because all that really matters is that the book resonates with the reader. Was it memorable? Am I glad I read it? Yes, in fact I am.

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Stealing Mona Lisa: A Mystery

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