I really enjoyed “The Rescue Artist,” which I read for the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge book of non-violent true crime. The story of the theft of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” from Norway’s National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 (the same morning the Olympics started in Lillehammer) is the through-line of the story, as well as profiling Scotland Yard Art Squad detective Charley Hill, who eventually recovered the painting. The story meanders into major art thefts and art thieves in history, how those cases were often worked (or not), Munch and his works, museum security and more. I actually liked how it wandered around topics, always coming back to “The Scream” and Charley Hill. It’s how my brain works, but might be annoying to some who like a straight-line story.
However, in a classic case of judging a book by its cover, I first saw the paperback version of this title at a bookstore, which drew my eye with its brightness and the dynamic illustration on the cover, plus the pull-out quote about it being fast-paced, rollicking and beautifully written. Then I realized it would work for one of the Read Harder challenges, so I requested it from the library, which only had the hardback with a much less interesting cover! So even though I was enjoying it when I read, and it was pretty fast-paced and well-written, etc., I found myself loath to pick it up because the cover turned me off so much! So, it took longer than it should have, but I’m glad I finished it.
Three words that describe this book: art theft investigation
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy art, true crime written with some humor, detective work, or mysteries.