Saturday, 17 July 2010

Review – Matthew HART – “The Irish Game”

Year Published: - 2006
Where the book was from:- Pensby Library
ISBN: - 1 84617 307 8
Pages: - 264pp (Large Print)
Genre: - Non Fiction, Crime, Art
Location:- Ireland, USA, Norway
How I came across it: - Serendipity
Rating: - ***** ****

One sentence summary:- A true story of crime and art including how Vermeer’s “Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid” – on of the world’s most expensive pictures - was stolen twice and recovered by two Irish policemen – a father and son.

“If they lose it again, they can get it back themselves”, said Liam Hogan to his father. Ned Hogan pondered this remark and then amended it, “If we get it back again,” he said, “we keep it”.

Both times it was recovered the art restorers who had it in their hands discovered something new about the painting and the techniques that Vermeer used.

Goya, Rembrandt, Rubens – the Beit art collection was worth millions. For twenty-two years, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit lived peacefully at Russborough House in Ireland. Then people started stealing their paintings. From the burglary at Russborough by IRA-sympathiser Rose Dugdale to the break-in by the Dublin gangster Martin Cahill, Matthew Hart follows the fortunes of Sir Alfred’s stolen paintings. Hart uncovers the webs of intrigue that surround these and other major art thefts, and how masterpieces are used as collateral in multi-million deals by arms and drugs barons.

The story is cleverly put together to give a sequence to a series of separate crimes with separate motives so that a most enjoyable tale emerges. It includes the theft and recovery of The Scream.

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