The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection

Dorothy Hoobler, Author, Thomas Hoobler, Author . Little, Brown $24.99 (376p) ISBN 978-0-316-01790-9

The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa serves as the centerpiece for the Edgar Award–winning Hooblers’ (In Darkness Death ) unwieldy account of life and crime in belle époque Paris. But the Hooblers devote so much time to the history of detection, in both fiction and real life, that the prized painting’s disappearance soon slips the reader’s mind. The authors locate the French obsession with the painting’s disappearance in a general fascination with crime, from the fictional thief Arsène Lupin, the hero of popular serials, to real 19th-century figures such as Vidocq, a former criminal turned investigator who inspired Poe—and Alphonse Bertillon, whose criminal identification system based on body measurements was a precursor to the science of biometrics. A lengthy look at the Parisian art scene is overly digressive, though Picasso and his pal Apollinaire’s tenuous connection to the Mona Lisa theft provides one of the book’s rare dramatic sections. When the painting is finally recovered in Florence in 1913, the reader is left as unsatisfied by the Hooblers’ scattered history as by the Italian-born thief’s dubious rationale for the theft. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Apr. 3)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-316-05253-5
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