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The Immaculate Deception (Jonathan Argyll #7)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  936 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Our Review
When in Rome

A stolen masterpiece with arcane allegorical significance; a decades-old political kidnapping and murder; and, of course, a tantalizing artwork of unknown provenance -- in his seventh Jonathan Argyll art mystery, The Immaculate Deception, English art historian Iain Pears returns with a virtuosic display of ingenious plotting and literary trompe l'oe
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 30th 2000 by Scribner Book Company (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,623)
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Mar 08, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 06, 2008 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 23, 2013 Cindy rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 07, 2014 Vontel rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2010 Ali rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010, mystery
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
Mar 19, 2014 Judith Shadford rated it it was ok
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
This was fun! I took this book out because I loved "The Instance of the Fingerpost" so much and wanted to try another of the author's books. I enjoyed the twists and turns of this book, the contemporary Italian setting, the art history aspect (my husband has a graduate degree in art history), and the characters.
This book was much lighter than "Fingerpost," of course, but a great diversion for a long plane ride. It was only a couple of hundred pages so I was able to read the whole thing at one
Vivienne Neal
Dec 06, 2014 Vivienne Neal rated it really liked it
A Page-Turning Crime Story

Protagonist, Flavia di Stefano, is the head of an art theft squad, investigating the theft of a painting taken from a museum in Italy and must recover the picture and pay a ransom without notifying the media. The scenario starts off with some awkward and humorous characters, but when protagonist Jonathan Argyll, Flavia’s husband, comes up with an idea for a gift for the soon to be retired General Taddeo Bottando, his wife’s boss and mentor, the story takes on a serious
Susan Liston
A series of art-related mysteries set in Italy, sounds so wonderful. But what is it about this author that I find tedious? I struggled through all 700+ pages of An Instance of the Fingerpost, but I was lost a great deal of the time. Figured this 220 pager should be a snap, but darned if I didn't struggle here as well. Just not that compelling. This is the seventh in a series, I find, I'll no doubt try at least one more of these. I hate to give up. I'm always worried when other readers are intrig ...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
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
Nov 10, 2013 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-modern
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 does feral sometimes
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
May 28, 2014 Sandra rated it liked it
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!
Jun 08, 2013 Jamie rated it liked it
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
Nov 12, 2014 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Really on 2 1/2 stars from me for this one. The sense of fun I got with the earlier books in this series is lacking. The characters are tired of their jobs and I sense that the author was getting tired of this series. Also, while Argyll solves the art mystery (my favourite part) he doesn't let the readers in on the secret.

I was amused by Argyll's successful sell-up of his business, but overall, just not enough fun for me.
Jun 30, 2016 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Great premise. But the ending seemed to be thrown together with lots of clues that the reader would not have possibly been able to determine. I read it on an airplane and it kept my attention. Could have used some more editing for continuity of the story line, characters and mystery solution.
Nov 18, 2009 Joje rated it really liked it
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
Stephanie Mayo
May 10, 2014 Stephanie Mayo rated it really liked it
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!
Oct 16, 2015 Alan rated it really liked it
A very good Johnathan Argyll and Flavia Art Squad mystery. Flavia is acting head of the art squad in Rome when someone steals a painting which is on loan to a Rome museum. The prime minister himself has vouchsafed the painting and wants Flavia to pay a bribe, which is illegal. Lots of good politics both in Italy and in the art world.
Aug 27, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it
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
Jan 03, 2010 Liza rated it really liked it
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
May 15, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
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
Apr 27, 2012 Martin Mulcahey rated it liked it
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
Aug 23, 2014 Harry Lane rated it really liked it
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
Aug 19, 2014 AnneMarie Watson rated it liked it
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
Aug 05, 2014 Laurie Stoll rated it did not like it
Shelves: own
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.
Apr 27, 2016 AV AV rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leuk verhaal met een ingenieus plot, waarin het verhaal van een aangrijpende en mysterieuze moord verweven is met een fascinerende kunsthistorische puzzel.
Sarah Hearn
May 04, 2016 Sarah Hearn rated it really liked it
Interesting. I kept feeling like I'd read another book wit these characters, but couldn't remember which. Well written, interesting plot, engaging characters.
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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)
  • Death and Restoration (Jonathan Argyll, #6)

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