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Stealing the Scream: The Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,594 ratings  ·  253 reviews
Edvard Munch's The Scream was stolen from Norway's National Gallery on a frozen February morning in 1994. Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police call on the world's greatest art detective, Scotland Yard's Charley Hill. This is the story of the theft and of the detective who found the painting.
Paperback, 270 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Icon (first published June 28th 2005)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  2,594 ratings  ·  253 reviews

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Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book; the writing was engaging, the stories were great, etc. etc. Content gets 5 stars.

However, the lack of any organization to the story did frustrate me a bit. I am okay with (even fond of) stories that jump all over the place when it serves some aesthetic, quirky, or endearing purpose. This did not. The overarching story is about the theft and recovery of The Scream. Dolnick also includes other anecdotes and adventures of the detective Charley Hill. As a side note, this does read
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece - Nevisande : Edward Dolnick - ISBN : 60531177 - ISBN13 : 9780060531171 - Dar 270 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2005
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ... old bill and his bent friends ...
Like the Dolnick book on the Vermeer forgeries, this stacks up as a compendium of art-world scam and theft alongside of the central thread, which is about the Munch's Scream theft.

This time out, though, the compendium aspects outweigh the central thread, and by a long shot. The real value of the book is in the asides, the comparisons, the sidebar items. There, the depth of the research really shows, in spite of an overdeveloped appreciation of the main character, (who obviously charmed the
Jul 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most boring books I've ever read. I was fastinated by the first chapter, describing in detail how the famous painting, "The Scream", was stolen from the National Museum in Norway. I managed to stay with the rest of the book only because I wanted to find out if the painting was recovered, and how. Unfortunately, the author kept backtracking and side stepping, going into incredibly tedious detail about other famous paintings that had been stolen. To save my sanity, I had to ...more
Jennifer S. Alderson
What an incredible story! This is as thrilling as some of your better fiction reads, yet is all true. I would love to have a beer with Charley Hill.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about how real art detectives work.
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It had a great story, but there was too much language.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arts, crime, nonfiction
I have always been fascinated with art heists, and this book covers (mostly) one of the more infamous ones. A lot of the information, as well as coverage of other notable thefts and personalities, I have read about before, but still there were interesting tidbits and material I was unfamiliar with. At times I felt the text was padded and could have been more streamlined, but overall I enjoyed the book.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've decided that art theft books are becoming my new thing. Just finished this one up last night. It was really good, though a bit confusing at points because of all the names. Maybe I was reading it too fast.

It's the story of Charley Hill, a Scotland Yard undercover police officer, who recovered Edvard Munch's The Scream after it was stolen off Oslo museum walls in 1994. Dolnick weaves the recovery story through stories of Hill's life as well as stories of other art thefts and recoveries. It's
Silvia Cachia
Non fiction as engaging as a great novel. Dolnick introduced me to a fascinating world of which I knew nothing, the world of art crimes and art rescues. The Scotland Yard real cop, Charles Hills, an unusual person with a fascinating past and outlook to life and his mission in it, was a pleasure to meet.

The book is mainly about the theft of one of the four Scream paintings (the most famous of the four copies by Munsh), and its recovery. Along the main event, Dolnick takes some detours in some
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was like...Ocean's 11 meets Monuments Men, meets Billionaire's Vinegar. Full of swashbuckling thieves, a now-nostalgic 1990's era, millions of dollars of, incidentally, priceless art, and a reverse Artful Dodger who acts as undercover agent to ingratiate himself in the seedy underbelly of big money theft in order to hang a missing Bruegel back on its rightful wall. The story of the recovery of The Scream is woven in and out of other various tales of big time art theft, dating back a ...more
Pamela Allegretto
Although the author often went off on tangents, they were such fascinating tangents that I began to look forward to them. This non-fiction reads like a well-crafted fiction.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever heard of the famous painting The Scream, by Edvard Munch? The book, The Rescue Artist, by Edward Dolnick -- a 240 page mystery -- starts off with the night The Scream is stolen. It's the opening day of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and the entire world is glued to the television screen. Well, the entire world except for two men, who know this is the perfect chance to steal something. With the help of a ladder, they steal The Scream, worth $72 million dollars, ...more
Nov 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love true stories that take you behind the scenes into passions outside of your own sphere. This is one of them--a suspenseful read about the audacious theft of one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's "The Scream", from the National Gellery in Oslo. This book is about the art world's underground, and about the world's greatest art detective who tracks down the thieves.

"The thief turned to "The Scream"--it hung only a yard from the window--and snipped the wire that held it to
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to realize that Edward Dolnick, author of The Clockwork Universe, also wrote one of my very favorite books; The Rescue Artist. A non-fiction work that reads like a novel, The Rescue Artist describes the efforts of art detective Charley Hill to recover Edvard Munch's The Scream when it's stolen from Oslo. (During the Winter Olympics, for added drama). Art theft and forgery fascinates me, but I think someone who doesn't have that particular fixation would still enjoy this as a ...more
I found this something of a disappointment, especially considering how much I'd enjoyed another book I'd read by Dolnick (Down the Great Unknown). The book lost much of its punch through digressions, and the style didn't seem particularly compelling.

I read this prior to going to Norway in 2007, and of course one of the places we went to was Norway's National Gallery, scene of the thefts. (However, for much more Munchian atmosphere, I'd recommend going to the Munch museum instead.)

The most
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit it. I am officially obsessed with learning about art crime, which as Dolnick describes in "The Rescue Artist," is odd in the very way it combines the "grime and the sublime"–the beauty and elevated genius of great art, and the crooked back dealings of thieves and criminals. This book does a great job of retelling the multiple exploits and fabricated personas of Art Squad legend Charley Hill. While the book is supposedly centered around Munch's "The Scream," the book jumps around quite ...more
Charlie Newfell
Art theft is rampant, and has been for decades. How can an object worth so much, yet so unique be stolen? Mr. Dolnick does a good job in go over the various reasons why these priceless objects become a frequent object of crime. He highlights a famous case as the common thread through the book, the theft of "The Scream" in Oslo just before the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway.

But - there's too little of the thieves and the art. He spends a lot of time describing the "rescue artist",
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the kind of book you don't want to put down - nonfiction that reads like fiction, a fast-paced mystery in which you also pick up interesting tidbits about art and artists. An Edgar Award winner, and it's obvious why. Highly recommend.
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not just about one art theft (The Scream by Munch), but about the career, personality and job session of one of Scotland Yard's (now retired) art squad detectives. Well written.
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book - engaging and intricate
I was [this close] to giving up on this book. The scene - on the opening day of the Lillehammer Olympics, two men climbed up a ladder propped against the outside of the National Gallery in Oslo, broke a window, climbed in and stole Edvard Munch's The Scream. The security guard was in the basement(?), getting started on paperwork after completing his rounds. Though the security alarm had gone off, the guard disregards it as a false alarm and doesn't even bother to check the tv screens before ...more
Patricia Domagala
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky B
Charley Hill was on Scotland Yard's art crime unit when thieves brazenly stole Munch's famous painting The Scream by climbing up a ladder propped outside of the Norway's National Gallery, smashing a window, grabbing the painting, and driving away on the eve of the 1994 winter Olympics hosted by Norway. Hill and his co-workers were looking for a way to boost their rep with the higher ups and the greater world, so they decided to see if they could help find the painting. With the hunt for The ...more
Ruby Rivera
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed this book, which I read for the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge book of non-violent true crime. The story of the theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from Norway’s National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 (the same morning the Olympics started in Lillehammer) is the through-line of the story, as well as profiling Scotland Yard Art Squad detective Charley Hill, who eventually recovered the painting. The story meanders into major art thefts and art thieves in history, how those cases ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Mo' money, mo' problems… a consistent theme of this book. I have never really thought about art theft or even realized the magnitude of the problem. According to this book, it is estimated that the stolen art market was doing 4-6 billion dollars of business per year (2005). More surprising, the actual theft is usually boorish and simple -- break a window and walk out with the painting or quickly cut it from its frame when no one is watching. Most thieves are not "Ocean 11-ing"
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My sister and I recently went to the Munch exhibit at San Francisco MOMA. A great exhibit that includes several Munch paintings that foreshadowed The Scream. That work, probably his most famous, wasn't included. They don't let it out of Norway for fear of their being stolen - AGAIN! This book is a fabulous description of the 1994 theft from the National Gallery in Oslo (in 2004 a second version was stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo). Both eventually were recovered. Besides great discussions ...more
Marjorie Elwood
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, mystery
Nine out of ten stolen paintings disappear forever.

Fortunately, this is not the story of those paintings. Instead, it's a mystery, with 'clues' about the missing painting (drips of wax from when Munch blew out the candle while painting: the drips landed on The Scream in an identifiable pattern). The psychology of the people involved is analyzed, although the author is a little too self-assured about his reading of character over - say - that of a professional psychologist....

The tale is full of
Bill Sleeman
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-law

The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick could easily have been subtitled “the professional biography of Charley Hill” which is okay as that is what the work is all about. To be fair author Dolnick does a good job capturing Hill’s eccentricities and his skills while at the same time making it clear that Hill is not really very likable. That lack of likability though is what makes Hill so successful at finding stolen art – he doesn’

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Edward Dolnick is an American writer, formerly a science writer at the Boston Globe. He has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post, among other publications. His books include Madness on the Couch : Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis (1998) and Down the Great Unknown : John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy ...more