In 2004, masked thieves stole Edvard Munch’s The Scream from an Oslo museum. Norwegian police recovered the painting two years later but never explained how or where they’d found it. This 70,000-word literary-leaning, humor-laced, crime novel Stealing The Scream tells what may have happened.
Retired CEO-turned-painter Percival Davenport’s criminality starts when, fueled by insecurity, he hires a whiskey-drinking thief to break into museums and hang his paintings. If Percival can pass off his art as museum-quality, he will know he’s attained mastery. The “donations” attract the attention of Leonard, a Smithsonian guard and amateur sleuth.
As Leonard begins collecting the unwanted paintings and searching for the artist, Percival’s studies intensify. He develops an obsession with Edvard Munch’s The Scream and steals it. When Leonard and law enforcement agents come knocking at Percival’s door, his Tell-Tale-Heart-like anxiety causes him to turn his mansion, and the famous painting, into a roiling inferno. This forces the police into creative means of art restoration. (taken from Amazon)
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on September 15th.
This book had a fascinating premise. The Scream has actually been stolen not once, but twice. True story! Having an entirely fictitious narrative woven around the little that we know about the 2004 theft is an awesome idea.
Let me first talk about the positive aspects of this book. Percival Davenport was a fascinating character. Having retired, he goes through a period of time where he’s really sort of lost. He doesn’t know what to do with his time. Eventually, he starts painting and discovers that, not only does he enjoy it immensely, he’s really talented. His hobby soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, however, which is what made this character so interesting. Reading about his shift into the shell of a person he becomes was both riveting and heartbreaking.
There were a few supporting characters as well: Lucinda, the house-keeper; Leonard, the security guard with an eye for art; and Red, the thief that eventually slips into the narrative. While they all added to the story, the only other character that really stood out to me was Leonard. He was very kind and honest, and just stumbled into something he never would have expected.
Now, let me move on to the negative aspects of this book. The grammar and spelling are atrocious. I kept being pulled from the narrative because a glaring error would pop up and distract me. I’m not sure whether I should be quoting any of these errors in an ARC review: suffice to say, they were both obvious and numerous enough to pretty much ruin this book for me. I dearly hope they will be fixed by publication time. It looked like it hadn’t been touched by either editor or spellcheck.
If the book is polished and the many mistakes are dealt with, then this is a solid read. Otherwise, I suggest reading the history of the theft online.