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Death and Restoration (Jonathan Argyll #6)

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  762 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
General Bottando can't believe his rotten luck. He has just been promotedto a position that's heavy on bureaucratic duties-but disturbingly light on investigative responsibilities. As if that wasn't annoying enough, he's received a tip about a planned raid at a nearby monastery. He's relying on his colleague Flavia di Stefano and her art-expert fiancé, Jonathan Argyll, to ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 12th 1998 by Scribner Book Company (first published 1996)
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Oct 30, 2015 Hana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The restoration of great works of art is a delicate and often controversial task. I'm one of those with mixed feelings about some recent restorations. Leonardo's masterpiece, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne is a case in point. Here's the before:

And after, being photographed at the Louvre:

Naturally, I love this mystery in which controversial restoration plays a central role. Dan Menzies, dubbed by his enemies the Rottweiler of Restoration, is restoring (or destroying) some not very valuable fr
Althea Ann
Sep 26, 2013 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the best mystery novel I've read in a very long time. It was MUCH better than either the Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons. (I may not be an art restorer, but as far as I noticed, at least nothing in Pears' background [the Italian art world] was WRONG!)

The Art Theft Squad has received an anonymous tip that a small monastery in Rome may soon be the victim of a heist - but their only valuable painting (a Caravaggio of doubtful provenance) is currently under restoration by an art restorer
Sep 29, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that this was the best of the 5 in this series that I have read. Mary Verney, last seen in Giotto's Hand, is back in Rome. Her beloved granddaughter has been kidnapped and is being held until she exits retirement and steals a painting for the son of one of her previous employers. Flavia di Stefano is being groomed to replace General Bottando as the head of Italy's Art Theft Police. Jonathan Argyll, Flavia's boyfriend, is lecturing in Baroque art, having given up on art dealing. The monas ...more
Jan 08, 2010 pinknantucket rated it it was ok
This is the second of these series of books that I have read, about the fictional adventures of the Art Theft department in Italy, and although it’s nice to read some crime novels about art for a change instead of all those ones about serial killers and autopsies and things, these are pretty light-weight books and not much to get excited about. Good for reading on the plane or the bus, or when you don’t want to tax yourself overly. I don’t think I need to tell you anything about the plot – a pai ...more
Apr 03, 2011 Hester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, novels, art, italy
This is how you keep a series fresh! The characters grow and the writing gets ever smarter, with lines like:
"Medieval monks scourged themselves with birch rods; we do the same thing with essays...It comes to the same thing in the end. Painful and humiliating, but part of the job. And purifying, in its way: it makes you see the futility of your existence. "

Jonathan Argyll is finally an academic, which suits him much better than being an art dealer. Interestingly enough, he is much better at selli
Georgiana 1792
Morte e Restaurazione

Il titolo La Pista Caravaggio è… depistante. Non è completamente estraneo al libro, come molti hanno detto, in quanto un presunto Caravaggio c’è in questa storia, e seguendo appunto la pista di questo dipinto (che peraltro raffigura il supplizio di Santa Caterina sulla ruota, con una punta di morbosità, un quadro di dimensioni che potrebbero porre non pochi problemi a qualunque ladro sprovvisto di camion), si giunge al vero tesoro che qualcuno cerca di trafugare dal Monaster
Simon Mcleish
Apr 30, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in May 1999.

One of Pears' series of art-related detective stories built round the character of art-dealer Jonathan Argyll, Death and Restoration is an extremely well put together crime novel. Argyll is taking a break from his profession to lecture students in Rome on the less well known art treasures of that city. His girlfriend, Flavia, works in the Italian police, in the department specialising in fine art crime. When she hears that an old acquaintance of t
aPriL does feral sometimes
The author writes plots in this series which remind me of Russian Matryoshka dolls. Some of the books nest up to six dolls deep in twists, while others nest four. This is a five doll mystery. The characters, Flavia di Stefano and Jonathan Argyll, are quickly moved along a life timeline as well; Flavia started as a researcher, then she was promoted to investigator and now she is the acting chief of Italy's Art Theft Squad. Jonathan and Flavia met in the first novel, began dating in the next, soon ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Sandie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I had heard of Iain Pears and when a friend lent me this book, I tried him. I did not expect he would be so funny. So, a serious mystery with a sense of humor. I enjoyed the book, it was a fast read, the pages turned quickly.

The detective here is Flavia Stephano, who gets research help from her fiance, Johnathan Argyll, an academic. The setting is a monastery with a supposed Caravaggio being restored by the "Rotweiler of Restoration". Characters include some of the monks, an old lady art thief,
Julie Defilippi
Apr 10, 2015 Julie Defilippi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great installment in an excellent series. I read a lot of mystery and this style and subject is so refreshing. I love that Flavia gets the job done without having to be super cop. She is just a regular person who makes the occasional mistake, has to deal with bureaucracy, and still gets the job done. All of the characters are real and very well written.
Feb 09, 2016 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a fun bit of fluff. I like Pears' mysteries and the art history/restoring angle is always a fun wrinkle. there is nothing particularly striking in this one, just a decent story and some old characters revisited.... which is always fun since Bottando, Jonathan, Flavia and Marie Verney are fun to spend time with.
Nov 03, 2014 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The plot was preposterous and there wasn't enough of the art mystery for my taste, but this was still a great deal of fun. I particularly liked how bemused the monks were by the displays of piety by the people in the neighbourhood and their difficultly in believing in miracles. I love Iain Pears' sense of humour.
Sometimes an author falls in love with one of his characters and finds it hard to let him or her go. Such is the case in this second to last Flavia And Jonathan adventure. Pears brings back his master thief from The Giotto's Hand to support a somewhat good plot but unfortunately the character's presence only annoyed me instead of adding to the tale. And what a tale it is. A forgotten monastery in the heart of Rome, an obscure order with a dubious Caravaggio and a miraculous icon worshipped by th ...more
Kari Mccrory
Jun 28, 2015 Kari Mccrory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Fun read. I enjoyed learning a bit about art history while reading this story. I liked the characters. I appreciated that the author included community beliefs regarding pieces of art as well as the history of the pieces.
Ben Chenoweth
Mar 12, 2016 Ben Chenoweth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better books in this series: the plot moves along at a cracking pace, with an additional character viewpoint that brought some depth to the proceedings. Plus the incorporation of the art history was done in a very creative way. Recommended!
Aug 26, 2011 Thea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good story. The writing was a little lacking at times, and what I believe was meant to be somewhat of a suspense novel ended up not being very suspenseful. An easy and enjoyable read, but not one I would return to anytime soon, if ever. The ending was slightly confusing and somewhat anticlimactic, and the characters were somewhat shallow. In that I wanted to truly believe the bad guy was a bad guy, to be shown that he was a bad guy, not just be told he was. Same for the good guys. However, a g ...more
Mar 25, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readable and entertaining. Interesting characters. I'm going to have to go back and start this series from the beginning.
Dec 09, 2007 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! I love Flavia and Jonathan Argyll. This one took place in a monastery and involved an icon of the Virgin Mary. What's not to like? There were so many great passages about being an academic, too. At one point he describes Jonathan's desire to get his hands on some manuscripts: "So Argyll left to find Father Jean and beg access to the archives. The itch was upon him, the yearning for the feel of old paper and the smell of dust in his hair." I know that feeling. He also has some funny c ...more
Aug 04, 2014 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very witty, moves right along..
Jun 08, 2015 Susan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Essex Free book sale 6/6/15
Annie Oosterwyk
May 22, 2010 Annie Oosterwyk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I just had a major score at my local used book store and picked up the rest of this series AND An Instance of the Fingerpost (a title I don't understand, but plan to read this summer).
Death and Restoration continues our acquaintance with Mary Verney, the English art thief, who is brought out of retirement by the kidnapping of her grand daughter. The story weaves together history from the time of Constantine and the Crusades with a discussion of modern theology and the principals of art restorat
Martin Mulcahey
Mar 20, 2011 Martin Mulcahey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found out later that this book is not the first in the series of Pears art history mysteries, but it certainly is not a bad place to start. A very fun read, with the right mixture of history, mystery, pace, and humor. You can tell the characters (good mix of male and female too) have been well thought out, as a series gives time for. Not to mention a plot that travels old Byzantium, Rome, Greece, with some political intrigue and all put before a religious backdrop. Pulled of very well!
Feb 05, 2009 Barbra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is a super series, the twists and turns that the author creates is fasinating, and the surprise ending you just can't see coming. I could just see the harrowing taxi ride through Rome "The Taxi lurched forward as the driver, now thoroughly enjoying himself, slammed his foot on the accelerator and let out the clutch. He needed little encouragement and swerved with a thump onto the pavement, put his hand on the horn and his foot on the pedal." Great stuff!!
Sep 15, 2012 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The plot is astonishing! Pears outdid himself with this one.

Judging from some of the comments, I suspect the plot went over the heads of some readers--this is very much a historical mystery. If the date 1453 rings as loud a bell for you as do 1066, 1492, and 1776, then the implications of the plot will be downright eerie--as Pears intended.
Oct 20, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've picked up several of Pears' novels because two friends, an English professor and an art historian professor, have recommended him. I still don't like mystery as a genre. However, the writing is certainly superior to any mystery I've read. I appreciate the accuracy of the history and setting. Still not a fan of mystery but I enjoyed reading this book.
Katherine P
Found this a slow and in some parts unengaging read. I may have enjoyed this more if I had read the other books in the series and had gotten more of a feel for the characters and their relationships. This is definitely not a series you can pick up in the middle and I wasn't intrigued enough to go back to the first book.
This is my first Pears book and I really enjoyed it. His characters are lively and interesting and he gives you JUST ENOUGH backstory on them to make you understand them, without overdoing it. He has a nice, dry sense of humor and the mystery (which is realistic and straightforward) works itself out logically.
Jan 07, 2010 Bunny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This mystery series is well written, set in Rome and full of information about art and the chicanery that goes on in the art world
Jonathan Argyll and his fiance, Flavia Di Stefano make a nice couple, with Flavia's boss, General Bottando, adding another pleasing layer to the stories.
Oct 15, 2010 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010booksread
Like all the books in this series, this is a well-written mystery. But there's not really anything to set it apart from the average decent mystery novel. I didn't notice anything wrong with it, but then again nothing really stood out. In short, it's forgettable.
Ram Kaushik
Dec 23, 2011 Ram Kaushik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Terrific read as expected from Iain Pears. Great fun while learning about art, and the writing is laced with wry humor and great observations about Italy. Bottando, Argyll and Flavia are memorable characters. Highly recommended!
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Iain Pears is an English art historian, novelist and journalist. He was educated at Warwick School, Warwick, Wadham College and Wolfson College, Oxford. Before writing, he worked as a reporter for the BBC, Channel 4 (UK) and ZDF (Germany) and correspondent for Reuters from 1982 to 1990 in Italy, France, UK and US. In 1987 he became a Getty Fellow in the Arts and Humanities at Yale University. His ...more
More about Iain Pears...

Other Books in the Series

Jonathan Argyll (7 books)
  • The Raphael Affair (Jonathan Argyll, #1)
  • The Titian Committee (Jonathan Argyll, #2)
  • The Bernini Bust (Jonathan Argyll, #3)
  • The Last Judgement (Jonathan Argyll, #4)
  • Giotto's Hand (Jonathan Argyll, #5)
  • The Immaculate Deception (Jonathan Argyll, #7)

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