Giotto's Hand (Jonathan Argyll, #5)
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Giotto's Hand (Jonathan Argyll #5)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  690 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Someone's planning to raid an ancient monastery in Rome. But why? And when? Enter art expert Jonathan Argyll...
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by Berkley (first published 1995)
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A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
Unlike his major books like An Instance of the Fingerpost or A Dream of Scipio, these Jonathan Argyll art theft mysteries are quick reads. They are witty and have a good enough mystery with a few twists to make them very enjoyable.
In this one, General Bottando of the Art Theft Squad is under attack by a bureaucratic functionary who wants his job. Bottando had collected a number of unsolved cases with similar M.O. and suddenly finds a clue which links them to an Englishman, who conveniently turns...more
Jill Holmes
This may be my favorite of the "Art History Mysteries' by Iain Pears. The plot is complex and involves the works of a number of artists from the supremely well-known to the far less familiar. Our mis-stepping hero, Jonathan Argyll, falls into another murder while in pursuit of artworks to sell as a dealer. He is forced to spend time in the cold summer of his native England removed from his preferred home in Italy. His beloved, the entrancing Flavia di Stefano, is sent to England to follow the br...more
More appropriately tagged Art Squad #5, this tale accounts the trials of Italy's investigative team as they cope with an attempted bureaucratic coup from within, while pursuing a mythical art thief that the Squad's leader, Bottando, had once deduced, but been unable to prove existed. Now circumstances force the Squad to resume the hunt for "Giotto," as Bottando dubbed his shadowy thief, even though it will add fuel to the impending coup -- an example of Bottando losing his grip, wasting funds on...more
Aug 14, 2011 Ape rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
But he hadn’t a clue; so he forgot all about it, and hummed to himself instead.

Last line from Giotto’s Hand by Iain Pears.

I first heard of Iain Pears after reading a book about a book lover and her love of books, Book Lover by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack. I remember the protagonist describing another novel by Iain Pears in detail and ever since then, I’ve wanted to read something by him.

Giotto’s Hand was my first chance and proved to be an enjoyable art murder/ mystery. The group dynamic be...more
Althea Ann
This is #5 (of 7) in Iain Pears' Art History Mystery series, but it's the last I read! I saved it a while, knowing that after this one, there aren't any more! Objectively, this probably isn't the best of the series,but it's a solid entry. Bottando, the director of the Art Theft Squad, has an upstart after his job, and out to discredit him and his methods. He grabs onto a dead-case file of old thefts, which Bottando had a theory about - that they might all have been the work of one mastermind, ni...more
I rather expected more from this having read An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Dream of Scipio, and The Raphael Affair. Put bluntly I found this pedestrian for the most part. I did enjoy some of the more lively interchanges between the character but the mystery itself as well as the interplay amongst the crew in Italy left much to be desired in my opinion. However it is a nice fluffy read for summer and I suspect many will find this just to their tastes.
Martin Mulcahey
This a return to England, where the majority of the action takes place. While the country manners and atmosphere is not brought to life as well as say a Anne Perry, Pears put his dry brand of humor to work well in the surroundings. I agree that this is not the strongest book of the series, but it still educated me while inserting a good mystery. My first book in the Argyll series was 'Death and restoration', so unfortunately I had an idea about how this one would finish. If you are a fan of the...more
This one I remembered half way through the book who was Giotto. Hence the three stars because this is a reread and well, once I remembered or I figured out who the culprit is, the structure of the mystery has to be air tight for me to really get into it. In this one we find the General under siege and attack from a bureaucrat who wants to oust him of his job, Flavia on the trail of a 30 years old theft and Jonathan, well, being Jonathan and stumbling into the mess by luck.

I love this series eve...more
For me, this was the beginning of the downfall of this previously wonderful series. Don't get me wrong; it's still a very good book, as are the next two, but they aren't as good as the first four. It's very clear to me when Pears started wanting to write "serious" books, as opposed to the generally lighthearted and frothy earlier ones. The mystery is plotted just as well as the first four (and probably better than The Last Judgement), but some of the humor is replaced by moral dilemmas for Jonat...more
I first read this in 2001. I'm too lazy to go to the library, so I have been reading stuff gathering dust on the shelves. This is a great story, with many bits of humour, and I enjoyed it very much. Oddly, I've only read one other book by Pears, and it isn't from the Art History Mystery series. I shall have to make amends.

Words I Can't Remember The Meaning Of:

Apparatchik (pg. 102) -- A blindly devoted official, says the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
didn't quite savour this one - found it a little bit confusing with big flashy italian names and references to painters i ain't never me heard of - i was promised a big twist at the tail but knowing a twist was coming it seemed pretty obvious who was gunna stick their hand up as the true crim and true to form she did - also found myself not liking any of the characters particularly - i didn't dislike em, i just didn't care ...
Fast, funny, intelligent and a pleasure to read, like all the books in this series. I'd already read a sequel to this one and I knew "whodunnit" — but that actually made it more enjoyable for me to see how Pears kind of deceived the reader throughout the book. This isn't a super tightly plotted "caper" or suspense thriller; it's really about the characters, who are all interesting and a treat to be with.
Bottando finds himself in a typical Italian dilemma, vying with the slimy Dr. Corrado and Jonathan finds himself back in Britain. This leads to some lovely barbs comparing and contrasting England and Italy, but the ending bothered me. Why would Jonathan get so worked up about this situation, but not about his accidental manslaughter in book one?
Georgiana 1792
Questo è il Pears che voglio leggere!!!
E sono sempre più convinta che l'ultima indagine della serie sia stata costruita a tavolino per chiudere il ciclo di romanzi!
Finalmente ho conosciuto alla sua prima apparizione Mary Verney, e, se ripenso a The Immaculate Deception resto ancora più perplessa!
I've read two other of his detective series and I disliked this one for the same reasons I'd disliked those. But I picked it up for my trip to Florence and Rome. Bigger disappointment because most of the book was set in England. But the villa we rented was named for Giotto so I guess it isn't all bad.
Another in the Art History mystery series by Mr. Pears. I like the series and the style, but this one just didn't hold my interest. It may not have been the fault of the novel itself, as the plot was fairly interesting and the characters well done. I think I will take a break from the series for a while.
Sarah Sammis
An entertaining book. I would read more of this series if I came across any. The language was a bit too flowery at times and even with all the red herrings, I had figured out who had done it quite early in the book. Nonetheless, the characters were interesting and humorous enough to keep reading.
Mar Preston
I like this book a lot. It's wickedly literate with lots of acid social commentary. The plot moves some interesting characters from Italy to East Anglia. His take on Italian art bureaucracy makes me laugh out loud. Here's one with few car chases and vivid characterization instead.
I liked this simple who-dun-it. Clever twist at the end (although I saw it coming), but it is refreshing to read an English author who does not condescend when describing Italians (think if Tim Parks).
A good book to bring along when you are on a short holiday.
James Sajo
I like this simple who-done-it. Clever twist at the end (although I did see it coming). It is especially refreshing to find an English author who does not condescend when describing Italians (think of Tim Parks).

A good book to bring along on a short vacation.
well written not the usual crime book. the characters are quite appealing. I can imagine bottando as a large Italian police officer and that he likes his work. The book is set in Italy but Argyll has to come to England to help find giotto the art criminal.
I really enjoyed this novel - I really like the structure - an art dealer who is too nice for it, a feisty Italian female cop in the art squad, and lots of dodgy folk. A fun crime novel and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Pears writes a fine mystery about the world of Italian art crime. This is entertaining, educationaland fujll of appealing characters. Kind of like learning about Navaho culture from the Tony Hillerman mysteries, only this time its Italian art.
L Greyfort
Let this one stand for Iain Pears' series of art crime mysteries. Notable for their humor as well as their fine puzzles, this one also furthers the story-arc of the series - always fun to deal with a benign serial criminal!
I keep hoping to find a book of Iain Pears that I like as much as I did the Instance of the Fingerpost, but this wasn't it. It is an art mystery, so if you appreciate fine art and can identify with the history you might enjoy it.
Good writing from the author of the amazing Dream of Scipio and An Instance of the Fingerpost. I was frustrated, though, that I could see what was coming and the intelligent main characters could not.
I very much liked the idea of an art history thriller but was slightly disappointed at the storyline, which seemed a little contrite. However, an okay read and I will try others in the series.
Kay Robinson
First I've read of this author, liked it, good international twist and art being something I liked added to it. Don't think I'd have done the same as Argyle at the end though :-) 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...
An Instance of the Fingerpost Stone's Fall The Dream of Scipio The Raphael Affair (Jonathan Argyll, #1) The Portrait

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