Stories on museum thefts often recall heist films with acts of bravado and an elite, sangfroid criminal class. At the other extreme, they can also recall campy '60s capers that delight audiences with bumbling characters who manage to get by in spite of themselves. Stealing Mona Lisa
- a debut novel that effectively draws from the public's fascination with the underworld - combines elements of both suave manipulation and occasional humor. Like several Hollywood plots, it also aligns with a criminal perspective from the beginning, states its motives plainly, and differs from traditional whodunits that are punctuated by red herrings and that rely on revelations. The heist, after all, derives much of its pleasure from letting viewers know more about what has happened than the authorities in pursuit. The suspense isn't about figuring out the whys and wherefores; instead, anticipation...
Beyond the Book
An early 16th century oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, The Mona Lisa
is believed to have been created between 1503-1507 in Florence (though it is rumored that da Vinci did not actually complete it until 1519, just before his death in France). The painting is probably inspired by Lisa Gherardini, the wife of an Italian merchant. In 2005, a scholar at the University of Heidelberg, Dr. Armin Schlechter, discovered a manuscript containing a marginal note written by a Florentine chancellery official, Agostino Vespucci, which mentions Lisa - helping to confirm the subject's identity as well as the dates of the work.