Summary and book reviews of The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer

The Last Mona Lisa

by Jonathan Santlofer

The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer X
The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2021, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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About this Book

Book Summary

A gripping novel exploring the Mona Lisa's very real theft in 1911 and the present underbelly of the art world, The Last Mona Lisa is a suspenseful tale, tapping into our universal fascination with da Vinci's enigma, why people are driven to possess certain works of art, and our fascination with the authentic and the fake.

August, 1911: The Mona Lisa is stolen by Vincent Peruggia. Exactly what happens in the two years before its recovery is a mystery. Many replicas of the Mona Lisa exist, and more than one historian has wondered if the painting now returned to the Louvre is a fake, switched in 1911.

Present day: Art professor Luke Perrone digs for the truth behind his most famous ancestor: Peruggia. His search attracts an Interpol detective with something to prove and an unfamiliar but curiously helpful woman. Soon, Luke tumbles deep into the world of art and forgery, a land of obsession and danger.

"Imitation...is a double murder, for it deprives both copy and original of their primitive existence."
— Madame de Staël

"Nothing is original."
— Jim Jarmusch

August 21, 1911
Paris, France

He has spent the night huddled in the dark, mind burning with Bosch- like scenes from hell, hideous monsters, people writhing in flames. He stares into the gloom, knowing that he will spend the rest of his days in darkness.

We lose the things we do not cherish enough, his one thought, his only thought, as he slips into his workman's tunic, buttons it over his street clothes, and opens the closet door.

The museum is unlit, but he has no trouble making his way down the long hall. He knows the layout perfectly, his intention fueled by guilt. The Winged Victory casts a predatory shadow that causes him to shiver though it is stifling, airless.

Her face appears like a specter, beautiful lips cracked, flesh tinged gray. Somewhere, a baby cries. The crying swells to a sickening shriek. He covers ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In general, the plot is slow to start, but as Luke's research begins to uncover more truths—and as those following him grow more impatient—the pace and suspense begin to build. Chapters become shorter as the book continues, which keeps the story moving, and the last 100 or so pages proceed at a breakneck pace. Santlofer teases the reader with just enough information to keep their interest without truly giving away anything until the very end. There are several twists that are just unexpected enough to be satisfying while also allowing for a neat conclusion to the Mona Lisa mystery...continued

Full Review Members Only (574 words).

(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Santlofer crafts a layered and absorbing art mystery, complete with exciting action scenes and beautiful descriptions of the city of Florence and its art as well as Paris and Nice...A must for fans of Dan Brown and Arturo Perez-Reverte.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The real-life theft of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa from the Louvre on Aug. 21, 1911, by workman Vincenzo Peruggia provides the backdrop for this outstanding caper...Details of Florence, Paris, and New York City enhance the twisty plot, as does the insider view of the underground world of art collectors driven by deception, ego, and greed. Santlofer, himself an artist, should win more awards with this one.

Booklist (starred review)
Suspenseful...lush with Florence's glorious art and architecture, sexy, and emotionally complex.

Author Blurb Megan Abbott, bestselling and award-winning author of Give Me Your Hand and The Turnout
From its seductive first pages, The Last Mona Lisa carries us along on an utterly irresistible time-jumping, continent-leaping tale of intrigue and family secrets, obsession and the ineffable power of art itself. I could not put it down.

Author Blurb Peter James, #1 bestselling crime thriller author
This is a terrific read - compelling, intelligent, fascinating and deeply satisfying. It was a book I did not want to end.

Author Blurb Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series
Fabulous―instantly immersive, intriguing and suspenseful, and expert and authentic too ... only a writer who is also an artist―or an artist who is also a writer―could have pulled it off. This feels like the thriller Santlofer was born to write.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Gardner Museum Heist

An empty frame at the Gardner Museum The Last Mona Lisa is a fictionalized account of the real 1911 theft of the famous da Vinci painting of the title. Despite extensive investigation, it took more than two years for the painting to be recovered and returned to the Louvre. Other art heists don't have such happy outcomes: Sometimes stolen paintings are damaged or destroyed, and in some cases, the art simply vanishes, hidden away in a private collection and never seen in public again. Luke, the main character in the novel, gets a glimpse into one such private collection, seeing a painting that went missing in the heist at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—a crime that has never been solved. Although this private collection is fictional, the theft at the Gardner ...

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