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The Immaculate Deception
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The Immaculate Deception (Jonathan Argyll #7)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  710 ratings  ·  70 reviews
From bestselling author Iain Pears comes an ingenious new mystery -- the seventh in his Jonathan Argyll series. THE IMMACULATE DECEPTION For newlywed and Italian Art Theft Squad head Flavia di Stefano, the honeymoon is over when a painting, borrowed from the Louvre and en route to a celebratory exhibition, is stolen. Desperate to avoid public embarrassment -- and to avoid ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 27th 2001 by Pocket Books (first published 2000)
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Sue
I've read the first in this series and now, apparently, the last, so I really should read the others. But that's what comes of reading what is on one's shelves!

Enjoyable, quite Italian in it's development and eventual coming together, this is a mystery for art lovers and mystery lovers, lovers of the chase who don't mind if that chase becomes a bit crazy though not in any hare-brained sense. As in the rest of the series, the main characters are Flavia diStefano, now temporary head of the art the
...more
Cynthia
Fantastic fun and easy and intelligent read. This is my second Jonathan Argyll thriller by Pears and it's just as good as the first I read, with a completely different plot and a great deal of growth and change in the characters. While I have nothing against series' where each book is basically the same as the others, it's a treat to read one where each book is a completely fresh read. This series revolves around art history, something I know next to nothing about, but Pears makes the artwork pa ...more
Mrsgaskell
I always enjoy mysteries that involve events from the past! When art dealer Jonathan Argyll sets out to establish the provenance of a painting he discovers that it was mysteriously stolen and rediscovered decades ago and that its current owner General Taddeo Bottando was one of the policemen involved at the time. Bottando is the former boss of Flavia di Stefano who heads the Italian Art Theft Squad and is now also Argyll's wife. Flavia is involved in a tricky political situation due to another a ...more
Cindy
This volume is the culmination of an intriguing and intelligent mystery series. I wish the author were more reachable (e.g. on Facebook), because I would send him a letter to thank him for creating this thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile series. These seven books have much to recommend them: the engaging Italian (and British) settings and the author's insights into their cultures and aesthetics, the informative art history themes, the endearing characters (well, Flavia, Jonathan, Mary, and Bott ...more
Ali
This book had a few too many minor characters with disproportionately large roles in the resolution of the mystery -- I had a hard time keeping track of everyone.

I'm sure I'll continue reading Pears' books (I'm such a sucker for books about art and art theft), but I think they're definitely going down hill as the series goes on.
Judith Shadford
Having just discovered that "Immaculate Deception" is part 7 of a series (art detective stories), I probably should modify my comments. But no. I am disappointed in a broader sense. Finding a mystery series that circles around the world of fine art should make me ravenous to read the entire series. Not indifferent. I loved "An Instance of the Fingerpost" and was tickled to find another Iain Pears on a second-hand shelf. The book is disappointing when it should be utterly absorbing. The dense nar ...more
Georgiana 1792
L'ultimo caso nel mondo dell'arte per Jonathan Argyll e Flavia Di Stefano

Flavia Di Stefano e Jonathan Argyll sono sposati da quattro settimane. Jonathan è un ex mercante d’arte inglese, un po’ pasticcione, con una spiccata tendenza a mettersi nei guai: quando un quadro viene rubato o viene commesso un delitto nel mondo dell’arte, è sempre il primo ad essere sospettato. Adesso è docente di Arte Barocca in un istituto per studenti stranieri a Roma, e si affanna alla ricerca di argomenti per le pub
...more
Althea Ann
This one is the most recent in the series... It was as tightly-plotted as 'Death and Restoration,' and the writing was as good, but I didn't like it as much - for personal reasons, I have to admit: At the outset, we're informed that Flavia and Jonathan have just gotten married. Of course, she immediately turns out to be pregnant. (It has to follow in that order, even though they've been living together for years, right?) The pregnancy is obvious to the reader (when is a woman ever repeatedly nau ...more
Ruth
C2005.FWFTB: Italian, art, theft, squad, Renaissance. An interesting premise involving a husband and wife team so no so-called romance story arc to worry about. Once again, I did not realise that this was the 7th book in a series known as the “Jonathan Argyll Art Mystery “ series’ so I missed a lot of the background of the relationship between the 2 main characters.The plotting seemed a little weak to me with this book being more about the details of the art rather than a straight forward whodun ...more
aPriL loves HalLowEen
This is the only realpolitik cozy series that has ever sat on my shelves. I'm full of admiration for the tricks Iain Pears pulled out of that clever head of his, but I'm left with a feeling of bereavement. Apparently, Pears never wrote another Flavia and Jonathan mystery after writing this (apparently) last book in the series. The ending certainly winds up every string.

Flavia, as head of the Italian Art Theft Squad, finds herself trapped between two powerful politicians playing a deadly game wit
...more
Vontel
This appears to be the last book in the series of Argyll and Flavia, much to my sorrow. I loved this book, with the characters developed more fully and their lives having progressed several years and changes, as well as the plot of this book and the political scandals. There are big changes coming in their lives at the end of the book. Now I can only go back and read the earlier books in this series which I have not read. It would be lovely if Iain Pears could write about this couple and again, ...more
Sandra
Entertaining, and I will probably read other books by this author. A light enjoyable detection/mystery and a quick read: fun but not quite engrossing.

Of course I particularly like the subject (art theft) and the venue (Italy). The characters are sketchily (but pleasantly well) drawn, but left too vague to really hold my interest fully. Still a good light read!
Jamie
A husband and wife both involved in the art world stumble across a government cover up regarding an old kidnapping and murder. A painting is stolen in broad daylight from a museum and then held for ransom. But then when the suspect is found dead and his time of death indicates he could not have been alive to make the ransom demand questions begin to haunt Flavia, the new Head of the Art Squad in Italy. Her husband, Argyle, unknowingly helps do some leg work with tracking down the provenance of a ...more
Joje
The Argyl series characters are likable and often as realistic as the genre can take, so this one is a success. I was less convinced by Bottando and the explanation of his being so secretive in the book, but it was at least a believable reason (is this a 'spoiler'?), but Argyll and Flavia are as fun as ever.
A fun bit of Flavia's logic: "What you need in such circumstances is someone who thoroughly disliked the man you are investigating. Faced with questions from the police about people you like
...more
Stephanie Mayo
Another thrilling read in the Art Theft Squad series! With both Flavia and Argyll off looking into their own mysteries, the twists and turns and surprises are gripping and there is never a dull moment. Taking you from Rome to Florence and Tuscany you are bound to fall in love with this pair!
Teresa
As ever with Mr Pears' books, I desparately want to haul myself to a major museum and study paintings from the Renaissance period. Not just the Masters, but all the others--students and apprentices and demi-Masters.
This story has Jonathan Argyll and Falvia di Stefano married and on another search for the history behind a couple of different paintings--one with a personal connection and the other with national (Italian) political connections. The characters are widely drawn to show all nature of
...more
Liza
I have read all of Pears' other books (not the art detective ones)and loved them all, but thought they were on the heavy side and not exactly the sort of book you take on holiday with you.

But I am pleased to report that I have found a new series to read. Wohoo! I picked up this one at random from a selection not knowing it was #7 in the series. I read it in one sitting and loved it. I am not usually into thrillers and crime books, but faith has been restored. I guess it takes a writer like Pear
...more
Michael
An intricately plotted, entertaining, but essentially unrealistic murder mystery. But Pears writes with such wit and deep knowledge of art and art history that as entertainment, his “Jonathan Argyll and Flavia di Stefano” novels have few rivals.
Martin Mulcahey
Love this series and development of characters, which played out well enough with a major development in this book but I found the political intrigue part of the book uninteresting. Not that it was not done well, just that it was not my taste and I do like the way Pears is moving the characters along in life stages. Everything was sound and fun but uninspired, except for last chapter which was brilliant. Character study rescues book IMO, and I rate it the second worst in the series to The Bernin ...more
Harry Lane
Nicely written, well-paced and filled with characters one can relate to. The art world connection is intriguing, and the setting in Italy is richly described. An easy, good read.
AnneMarie Watson
I really like this author's historical fiction, but this historical mystery, which is part of a series, barely held my attention. Too neat and trite. Characters were quite one dimensional.
Laurie Stoll
The subject of this story could have been very entertaining. Unfortunately, the book read very dry and flat. I kept hoping it would get better but it never did.
astried
I found tying up loose ends rather tiring. Of course it's the last book of the series, and in a way he's done quite good to all the parties involved, what with (view spoiler) . I guess I wished it wasn't as perfect as it is... it's rather too sweet for my taste

And yet he managed to withold the information i wante
...more
Linda
I discovered after reading this book that it is part of series of “art mysteries” featuring art historian Jonathan Argyll and his girlfriend, now wife, Flavia di Stefano, head of an Italian government group of art detectives. As Flavia tries to track down a recently stolen painting, Jonathan is trying to discover the provenance of a small painting owned by Flavia’s former boss. The two searches become intertwined, and the plot gets more and more complicated. I enjoyed the book because it takes ...more
Writerlibrarian
This closes Pears' art mysteries in a clever way. Like the last two books, Pears brings back Mary Verney and ties up tangling threads by connecting two unlikely characters. All's well that ends well since the General retires, Jonathan and Flavia live happily ever after. Not all is black and white, the art mystery at the centre of the plotis actually a distraction and doesn't really gets a resolution. The end is open ended in a way that is satisfying and makes you smile. Jonathan, Flavia and the ...more
Laurel
I've only read two books by this author but somehow reread this one accidentally. What's worse is I didn't realize it until about half way through. On top of that, I still couldn't keep the many characters and their double crosses all straight. This is a short, quick read but when you only read a few pages at a time with a lot of interruptions (i.e., watching kids at swimming lessons) it is hard to follow the overly convoluted plot. Main characters and scenery all very nice which make up for bei ...more
Jocelyn
Murder and art thievery, love and politics in Italy. Short and sweet. This is the last of a series. I'm not sure but I think I have read all of them at some point or another (except for the one I'm reading now). I got turned on to them because I LOVED Pears' first novel, An Instance of the Fingerpost. When I picked The Immaculate Deception up from the library, I also picked up the second-to-last book in the series, which I also had not read. Then by mistake I read the last book first.
Kay
Ah- the twists and turns of this little art-theft mystery!! This seems to be a test in whether the reader can untangle the double crosses and mixed motives of the characters, against a frankly domestic background involving the respective jobs of wife and husband, Flavia (government art policing expert) and Jonathon (connoisseur and private detective). I don't know how Pears managed to fit such a complicated tale into so few pages! A bit light and fluffy but a good read.
Lisa
Anyone see the irony in that the female protagonist threatens a fight for her position based on women's rights yet she relies on her husband to solve the crimes she is working on? Why can't the author let her be the one to solve the cases? Why does he use a male as the answer guy? At least it's set in the world's most beautiful city and I love to reminisce about my time in Rome as I read the characters' whereabouts.
Hester
A fun book whose plot twists simultaneously hide and reveal Pears' disgust with the (then) current state of Italian politics. While he gives our beloved characters appropriate send-offs, I cannot see further adventures for Flavia in Berlusconi's Italy. And even if he resigns, it will still be Berlusconi's Italy.

Spoiler ahead:






Ian Pears: you are a tease to not reveal the triptych's painter.
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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...
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