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L'affaire Raphael (Jonathan Argyll #1)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  2,649 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
English art scholar Jonathan Argyll was amazed to find himself arrested for vagrancy-while searching for a long-lost Raphael in a tiny Roman church. Although General Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad has little confidence in Jonathan's theories, Bottando's lovely assistant, Flavia di Stefano, is intrigued by the idea of a lost classic, and by Jonathan himsel ...more
299 pages
Published 2000 by Belfond (first published 1990)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”But she was most struck by the reaction from the audience. They were not admiring the delicacy of the brush strokes, the masterly application of shading or the subtleties of the composition, that was certain. They were ogling. Not a usual reaction for connoisseurs. She herself was caught up in the enthusiasm. The picture, both in its history and subject, was extraordinarily romantic. This most beautiful woman, nearly half a millennium old, had been lost for nearly three hundred years. It could ...more
3.5 stars
Art. History. Art History. Art theft. Forged art. Murder
Whats not to like? This book was right up my alley. I loved reading about all the technical details of how the forgery was carried out. Is it actually probable? Who knows, am just an art enthusiast. The narrative might seem a bit jarring to some but I had no issues as this was a short and fast paced book and I was not in a mood for some long drawn writing anyway.
A perfect reading material for a slightly chilly, cloudy, cheerless Su
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pears is a plums. He writes with enviable wit and aplomb, too. We've read maybe thirty mysteries aloud, including some Sayers and Grimes, Elizabeth George and Donna Leon. This was one of our favorites. Like Donna Leon, Pears captures the flavor of Italian bureaucracy, its diffusion of authoritarian sexism combined with a lacing of incompetence; but Pears adds the delicious factor of comparative incompetence between Italy and the UK. Bottando is a fine invention, a bit like Leon's Brunetti in tha ...more
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, art, italy, read-2013
This is a fun mystery involving the art market in Europe, specifically England and Italy with some offshoots to France and Switzerland. There is fraud, whispers of fake art, death--unexplained, art museums, fraud squads. What more could one want in a fairly quick but full-of-information art mystery. I think I'll try to get to more in the series.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like art history and a bit of crime and suspense, read this!
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A mediocre mystery set in the art world. The main male Italian characters were pompous,egotistical and tiresome. Flavia fairs better, at least she is full of live and uses her intelligence to solve the mystery of the forged painting. I coud not believe that Jonathan Argyll was so naive and downright stupid at times.
Neću je završiti... Isuviše je suvoparna i jednostavno mi ne prija. Možda joj se jednom vratim, ali velika je verovatnoća da neću. Pisanje na nivou uputstva za veš-mašinu: suvo, previše koncizno, tehničko, u rangu nabrajanja. Ovako se ne piše roman.
aPriL does feral sometimes
I'm mystified by how there could be a lot learned about art from this first book in this series, but there is a flavor of what kind of traveling and people and art institutions are involved in the selling of art and in the scrum of public display by museums. Everything is introduced a bit bubbly and brief. The characters are a little silly. There is a murder and a short life-and-death tussle which feels peculiar given the light touch throughout, but it is serious for only a page or two.

I received a lot of criticism for my criticism of another of Iain Pear’s books, “Death and Restoration”. Well, this one was better! A lot better – I think because we didn’t have to endure so much of Jonathan Argyll’s “inner monologue” about his ethical dilemmas – he was just a slightly kooky art historian. (And we all know how kooky art historians are). I also enjoyed the plot of this book much more, as it relied more on legitimate historical detective work and less on the philosophical musings ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Not quite in the same class as Arturo Perez-Reverte's antiquarian mysteries. It is the first of a series however, and Pears would grow as a writer later on. In the meantime we have a twisting tale of art world intrigue that begins to deal with larger topics of the nature of beauty, authenticity and what constitutes a masterpiece, but falls short of really bringing them to life. Instead, we have a neat little mystery, a dose of action and a love interest to boot. In this case the love interest ca ...more
The first in Pears' "Art History" series. Short, sweet, highly improbable at the ending: I mean, really... who is going to believe the final scene in the museum? But it doesn't matter, duzzit? It's fun, and well written, and it takes place in Rome (mostly), back in the days when Rome was still a decent place to live. Very nostalgic.

Just what I needed after reading the monster (but gorgeous), The Count of Monte Cristo.
Carolyn Miles
A lucky find when my neighbour let me help myself to her boxes of books she was clearing out. I scored the whole collection & this is the first one, nice & small, fit in the handbag and perfect for a weekend away. A winning trio of Art, Italy and mystery in a tightly written style with interesting characters and a good sprinkling of humour too. Am already starting on the next one.
* I would give this 3.5 stars if I knew how to give half a star!
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2017-reads
I picked this audiobook because 1] I really need a story; 2] the art history book I finished indexing last week has inspired to read more about Italian Renaissance art ; and 3] Ralph Cosham (of the Louise Penny books) is the narrator and I love his beautiful voice.
John Alvord
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great characters, interesting plot shifts, wry humor, with the bonuses of insight in the dodgy world of art collecting and a spattering of cultural history
Ed Mestre
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several months ago I reviewed Iain Pears’ amazing, complex, quad angled book “An Instance of the Fingerpost”. Seven years earlier he wrote this book, his first. Much to my surprise it was closer to Agatha Christie in spirit than Rashomon. A mystery without a body (at least not for a while) & a young, quirky Brit art historian, Jonathan Argyll, as the main deducer. His deductive skills can be brilliant, but he also says & does some of the dumbest things. Bringing this pale Englishman into ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Didn't realize when I started it how short this book would be, but that's ok. I would say the only problem with this book is that while it is the first of a series, it is the only one in the series that I can find in audiobook format. What a bummer!

Jonathan Argyle is a student of art history. He has discovered that an artist named Mantini helped to smuggle a painting by Raphael out of Italy by painting over it. The purchaser had a heart attack, and died before he could take possession of the pa
I enjoyed this mystery, it was clever and engaging as were the characters the author created. I loved that the mystery revolved around art theft. I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed the narrator as well. Though I found I had a little difficulty getting the Italian names to stick in my brain. I found I had to jot down notes as I was listening to help me keep them straight. This was a quick and engaging mystery.
Dec 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd had this book for ages and only now picked it up to read.

Found it a quite light-hearted mystery with an art history theme. Jonathan Argyll comes across as somewhat bumbling and I rather preferred Flavia. Oh well. It was a quick read and I loved the art history aspect.
Jan 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks, Mary G for this recommendation. I am now reading the second book in this series and am enjoying the mystery heartily. Pears is a rare combination--an excellent and intelligent writer who can weave a good mystery and develop his characters! Sophisticated and clean! Hoorah!

Set mainly in Rome, the combination of art history and mystery made this a fun audio. The plot was quite twisty, the characters interesting, and the writing was lean with no excess verbiage. The narration by Ralph Cosham was top rate.
Jean Hontz
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good take on art theft, with a main character who, gasp, makes mistakes! Looking forward to the rest of the series.
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if you love art history & you love mysteries and amazing characters- you will LOVE these Iain Pears' books!! this is the1st one- it's great fun!
Прочитал сборник Йена Пирса «Загадка Рафаэля. Комитет Тициана. Бюст Бернини. Последний суд». Исскуствоведческие детективы. Четыре последовательных истории, в которых участвуют раздолбай, не очень удачный торговец картинами Джонатан Аргайл (роль доктора Ватсона) и строгая сотрудница итальянского отдела по раскрытию преступлений в сфере искусств Флавия ди Стефано (роль Шерлока Холмса). И уже понятно, что это вряд ли уж такие оригинальные произведения, раз роли настолько просто читаются.

А вот особо
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably actually 3-1/2 stars, but this was just such fun! Quirky little twists and turns along with interesting characters, this one pulled me right in. I even found myself casting for the movie I want to see made of it. I kept hearing Jonny Lee Miller as Argyll in my head (though he’s probably too old), and the French art agent clearly looks just like Gerard Depardieu. Haven’t come up with the perfect Flavia as yet, though I could see and hear her perfectly well in my mental cinema...
This offe
Virginia Van
English art scholar Jonathan Argyll is convinced that he has found clues to a long-lost painting by Raphael hidden behind another painting in a small church in Rome. Although General Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad is skeptical, his assistant, Flavia di Stefano is intrigued by the idea. However,the painting's discovery leads to vandalism and then murder. First in the Jonathan Argyll series.
Anastasia Baranchenkova
It is OK reading. It is a detective story but nothing really happens in the first 100 pages out of 260. And then in the next 100 everything happens and gets solved. I would call it a poor version of Dan Brown.
David Schwan
I've read 4 of the 7 books (saw then at bookstore and bought). I noticed I had not read 3 of of 7 and got the reamining 3. This is the first book and sets of all of the characters. There is a bit of back and forth in the plot and eventually a solution is found.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad tour through the Italian art police and art forgery in general. Fun characters.
Ellen Dark
Enjoyable, but hard to keep track of the suspects.
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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 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)
  • The Immaculate Deception (Jonathan Argyll, #7)
“A te trezi, în Roma ca și în oricare alt oraș, e o treabă personală și cel mai bine e să o rezolvi în liniște.” 0 likes
“... o zi fără înghețată era o zi pierdută.” 0 likes
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