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 builds ...
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