98 books like The Art Thief

By Noah Charney,

Here are 98 books that The Art Thief fans have personally recommended if you like The Art Thief. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Angels & Demons

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

From my list on weaving adventure and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

E. Chris Ambrose Why did E. Chris love this book?

While most people associate Dan Brown with his more famous work, The DaVinci Code, this first novel in his Robert Langdon series really founded the archaeological thriller genre.

I loved how this book transports readers to the milieu so thoroughly that it was a bit of a spoiler when I recognized one key location from my own time in Rome before the secret was revealed—but that's a testament to how well he conveys the scene! Brown invites us behind the scenes of secret societies, sharing insider information to raise the stakes.

I had the great good fortune to take a workshop with Dan just before DaVinci Code came out, and benefit from his enormous skill as a teacher. The man tells a ripping yarn, full of puzzles that blend fact and fancy. 

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Angels & Demons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

CERN Institute, Switzerland: a world-renowned scientist is found brutally murdered with a mysterious symbol seared onto his chest.

The Vatican, Rome: the College of Cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Somewhere beneath them, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion.

In a breathtaking race against time, Harvard professor Robert Langdon must decipher a labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols if he is to defeat those responsible - the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years, reborn to continue their deadly vendetta against their most hated enemy, the Catholic Church.

Origin, the spellbinding…


Book cover of Girl with a Pearl Earring

Rebecca D'Harlingue Author Of The Map Colorist

From my list on 17th-century women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find the seventeenth century fascinating, and both of my novels are set in that period. The century was a time of great flux, and I am especially interested in exploring the kinds of things that women might have done, even though their accomplishments weren’t recorded. There is a wonderful article by novelist Rachel Kadish called “Writing the Lives of Forgotten Women,” in which she refers to Hilary Mantel’s comments that people whose lives are not recorded fall through the sieve of history. Kadish says that, “Lives have run through the sieve, but we can catch them with our hands.” These novels all attempt to do that.

Rebecca's book list on 17th-century women

Rebecca D'Harlingue Why did Rebecca love this book?

This book was a phenomenon when it came out, and with good reason.

Chevalier’s words paint a picture of the life of a young girl, Griet, who is working in the house of the artist, Johannes Vermeer in 1660s Delft. In the novel, Griet is the model for the famous painting. The relationship between artist and model, and what they do, and don’t, mean to each other, is complex and intriguing.

The way that Chevalier depicts the restrained interactions between the two seems to mimic Vermeer’s restrained yet visually detailed style.

By Tracy Chevalier,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Girl with a Pearl Earring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling novel by the author of A Single Thread and At the Edge of the Orchard

Translated into thirty-nine languages and made into an Oscar-nominated film, starring Scarlett Johanson and Colin Firth

Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . .…


Book cover of What I Loved

Cornelia Feye Author Of Spring of Tears

From my list on mysteries with an art theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

I arrived in New York City from Germany thirty years ago with two suitcases and a typewriter. Since then, I try to combine my background as an art historian – I hold a M.A. in Art History and Anthropology from the University of Tübingen, Germany – with my experiences travelling around the world for seven years, and my love for writing. After a career in museum education (at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Mingei, and the Athenaeum) I founded Konstellation Press, an indie publishing company for genre fiction. The first of my four novels, Spring of Tears, an art mystery set in France, won the San Diego Book Award.

Cornelia's book list on mysteries with an art theme

Cornelia Feye Why did Cornelia love this book?

Siri Hustvedt is one of my favorite writers. Her characters are so complex and believable, I always feel I know them personally after I finish a book by her. What I Loved is not strictly a mystery, even though there is violence, murder, and erotic tension. It is an urban thriller, a love story, and a deep dive into an artist’s soul over his 30-year career. 

By Siri Hustvedt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What I Loved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of two men who first become friends in 1970s New York, of the women in their lives, and of their sons, born the same year. Both Leo Hertzberg, an art historian, and Bill Weschler, a painter, are cultured, decent men, but neither is equipped to deal with what happens to their children -- Leo's son drowns when he's 12, while Bill's son Mark grows up to be a delinquent, and the acolyte of a sinister, guru-like artist who spawns murder in his wake. Spanning the hedonism of the eighties and the chill-out nineties, this multi-layered novel…


Book cover of The Killing Art

Cornelia Feye Author Of Spring of Tears

From my list on mysteries with an art theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

I arrived in New York City from Germany thirty years ago with two suitcases and a typewriter. Since then, I try to combine my background as an art historian – I hold a M.A. in Art History and Anthropology from the University of Tübingen, Germany – with my experiences travelling around the world for seven years, and my love for writing. After a career in museum education (at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Mingei, and the Athenaeum) I founded Konstellation Press, an indie publishing company for genre fiction. The first of my four novels, Spring of Tears, an art mystery set in France, won the San Diego Book Award.

Cornelia's book list on mysteries with an art theme

Cornelia Feye Why did Cornelia love this book?

The author of The Killing Art is an artist himself and therefore writes from an insider perspective. The location is New York City and the art movement is the New York School of Art or Abstract Expressionism, which included the artists Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko. The main protagonist is Kate McKinnon, an art historian and former cop, who sets out to write a book about these artists, but is pulled back into solving crimes as the paintings she writes about— and their owners—are slashed. I like the female protagonist in this book as well as the more contemporary setting and art.   

By Jonathan Santlofer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Killing Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

History and fiction collide with deadly consequences in the third Kate McKinnon novel—a story of bitter revenge, where the past invades the present and a decades-old secret proves fatal

Kate McKinnon has lived many lives, from Queens cop to Manhattan socialite, television art historian, and the woman who helped the NYPD capture the Death Artist and the Color Blind killer. But that's the past. Now, devastated by the death of her husband, Kate is attempting to quietly rebuild her life as a single woman. Gone are the Park Avenue penthouse and designer clothes. Now it's a funky Chelsea loft, downtown…


Book cover of Death and Restoration

Lyn Farrell Author Of The Blind Switch

From my list on mysteries that carry us to different worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught myself to read when I was 4 and have been an omnivorous reader ever since. By the time I was in high school, I was reading the Grand Dame Agatha Christie’s wonderful mysteries. The cozy genre captured me with its deft characterization and clever solutions to “who dunnit.” I wanted to be a writer, received a B.A. and M.A. degree in Literature and later a Ph.D. Once retired from full-time work, I returned to my original desire and as Lia Farrell wrote and published The Mae December Mysteries. Since then, as Lyn Farrell, I have written The Rosedale Investigations series. Together the books have sold 30,000 copies.

Lyn's book list on mysteries that carry us to different worlds

Lyn Farrell Why did Lyn love this book?

Ian Pears is an erudite art historian who has written prolifically on artistic, historical, and financial topics.

In his series about the fictional Italian Art Squad in Rome, he gives us General Tadeo Bottando who is fighting a losing battle to protect the heritage and art of Italy. He is a military man who expects his subordinates to respect his position and wisdom, but Flavia de Stefano, his second-in-command, is distressingly off-hand in her treatment of the man.

In Death and Restoration, the General has just received a tip about a planned raid of a nearby monastery. It doesn’t make sense, there’s nothing valuable in the monastery’s collection, except for the endearing art thief, called the “Rotweiler of Restoration,” who is restoring the only important piece, a painting by Caravaggio and a tiny dusty icon of a Madonna. She’s called “My Lady” is believed to have protected the church…

By Iain Pears,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death and Restoration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

General Bottando can't believe his rotten luck. He has just been promoted--to a position that's heavy on bureaucratic duties-but disturbingly light on investigative responsibilities. As if that wasn't annoying enough, he's received a tip about a planned raid at a nearby monastery. He's relying on his colleague Flavia di Stefano and her art-expert fiance, Jonathan Argyll, to thwart the plot-but both are beyond baffled. The only valuable item in the monastery's art collection is a supposed Caravaggio that's currently being restored. There are no solid suspects-unless you count the endearing art thief, the flagrantly flamboyant "Rottweiler of Restoration," and the…


Book cover of The Dante Connection

Sherry Roberts Author Of Down Dog Diary

From my list on quirky, fascinating detectives from around the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some people read mysteries to figure out who did it. Not me. I read mysteries (several a week) because they are full of contradictions, lies and truths, and humans making hard and sometimes stupid decisions. I lean toward mysteries that are literary in writing quality with quirky, complicated characters; a good sense of humor; and diverse settings. In my cozy Minnesota mystery series featuring Maya Skye, I am interested in the contradiction of a yoga teacher who is dedicated to seeking inner peace and yet drawn to mayhem. As Maya says, “We may try to follow the path, but life isn’t all Minnesota nice.” 

Sherry's book list on quirky, fascinating detectives from around the world

Sherry Roberts Why did Sherry love this book?

Estelle Ryan writes mysteries set in France with a most unusual sleuth: autistic insurance investigator Dr. Genevieve Lenard. I am fascinated by how Lenard, a world-renowned expert on nonverbal communication, navigates both her personal and professional lives as she tracks down art thieves. She is a human lie detector who can’t bear to be touched and who, when upset, goes into autistic meltdowns in which she writes classical music in her head. I go to Ryan’s website to see the artwork and listen to the music featured in each book. Lenard also has a quirky team of sidekicks that I adore and that bring humanity to Lenard’s sheltered life: a former art thief, a hacker, a cop, and a tough guy.

By Estelle Ryan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dante Connection as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Art theft. Coded messages. A high-level threat.

Despite her initial disbelief, Doctor Genevieve Lenard discovers that she is the key that connects stolen works of art, ciphers and sinister threats.

Betrayed by the people who called themselves her friends, Genevieve throws herself into her insurance investigation job with autistic single-mindedness. When hacker Francine appears beaten and bloodied on her doorstep, begging for her help, Genevieve is forced to get past the hurt of her friends’ abandonment and team up with them to find the perpetrators.

Little does she know that it will take her on a journey through not one,…


Book cover of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures

Tim Maleeny Author Of Hanging the Devil

From my list on planning an art heist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by art, not just the paintings themselves but their historical significance, the personalities behind the canvas, and the seemingly arbitrary value placed on one artist’s work versus another. Writing my latest novel, Hanging the Devil, was a chance to delve into the illicit side of the art world, where forgers and smugglers consort with organized crime. I’ve been an award-winning mystery author for more than a decade—this is my sixth novel—and the great thing about writing crime fiction is the chance to get lost in the research and learn something new, so writing this novel was a great excuse to visit museums, talk to experts, and plan a heist!

Tim's book list on planning an art heist

Tim Maleeny Why did Tim love this book?

Robert K. Wittman is the founder of the FBI Art Crime Team, and any one of his undercover adventures could be the plot for a box office thriller. Over the course of his career Wittman not only recovered hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth a stolen property, he protected priceless masterpieces from being lost forever. 

When I first began doing research for a novel about art theft, it was clear the global market for stolen masterpieces is incredibly complex, an underground network of smugglers, master forgers, and organized crime syndicates. To get my facts straight I needed a navigator, and this book immediately put me on the right track.

Wittman’s backstory and relentless drive to make art crime a priority within the FBI, as Italy has done with its Carabinieri Art Squad, is an inspiring story on its own, and many of his cases would feel right at home in…

By Robert K Wittman, John Shiffman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Priceless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Wall Street Journal called him “a living legend.” The London Times dubbed him “the most famous art detective in the world.”
 
In Priceless, Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time, offering a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.   
 
Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and…


Book cover of Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It

C.F. Yetmen Author Of The Roses Underneath

From my list on photo books that tell stories of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my “day job” I write about architecture, which means I often write about things I see in photos. When I began writing fiction, I continued using photos as inspiration and research. My novels are inspired by my family’s circumstances at the end of World War II and my fascination with the work of the Monuments Men. Photos show me details like a little girl playing with her doll under a sign that declares her building to be at risk of collapse, or a woman using the ruins of a building to hang out the wash. I love finding ways to use these elements in my writing.

C.F.'s book list on photo books that tell stories of World War II

C.F. Yetmen Why did C.F. love this book?

I chose photo books for my list because I often use photos to help me as I write—either to construct a scene or to provide detail. Because my books are set against the backdrop of the Monuments Men’s work, this book was really the starting point for my writing the trilogy.  

Edsel presents a methodical overview of the vast scope of Nazi art theft in Europe, the destruction wrought on its monuments, and the enormous task of restitution and rebuilding. Seeing the sheer quantity of looted art stacked ceiling-high in endless rows and the faces of the men and women charged with making it right helped me put their work into my fictional work.

By Robert M. Edsel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rescuing Da Vinci as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Monuments Men, which is now a major motion picture directed by and starring George Clooney, Rescuing Da Vinci uses 460 photographs to tell the story of the Monuments Men.   

The Monuments Men were a group of 345 or so men and women from thirteen nations who comprised the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II. Many were museum directors, curators, art historians and educators. Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the…


Book cover of Headhunters

James Fouche Author Of Jack Hanger

From my list on crime mysteries with unconventional characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a crime author and screenwriter, I’m fascinated by the consequences of crime and how it impacts feasible characters. I try to illustrate this obsession by creating realistic stress situations for my characters, then showcasing how it affects their decision-making process. In writing the protagonist for Jack Hanger, I consulted two different psychologists to research the protagonist and to capture the severity of his circumstances in detail. For King of Sorrow, I created an unconventional antagonist, with the aim of showing readers how ambition and greed can corrupt the most rational mind. I believe it is my job to challenge conventions and entertain readers from the opening page.

James' book list on crime mysteries with unconventional characters

James Fouche Why did James love this book?

As one of Norway’s top recruitment specialists, Roger Brown views himself as a ‘headhunter’ extraordinaire. The fact that he moonlights as an art thief, is simply a way of dealing with his own inadequacies and his reckless spending habits. Unfortunately, his next heist goes horribly wrong. The story unfolds evenly and cleverly, with blunt bursts of murder and mayhem around every corner.

What makes this such a fun read, is the duplicitous nature of the protagonist. The absurdity of his circumstances is directly caused by his inability to refrain from committing other criminal acts. This internal struggle is brilliantly depicted throughout and creates a palpable tension for readers.

By Jo Nesbo, Don Bartlett (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Headhunters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • A funny, dark, and twisted caper worthy of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers—about an aspiring art thief and the target who’s about to destroy his life.

“If you don’t know Nesbø, it’s time to get with it.” —USA Today

Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his…


Book cover of Theft

Alison Booth Author Of The Painting

From my list on art theft mystery novels that don’t tell the same old story.

Why am I passionate about this?

What makes me passionate about this topic is my love of art, encouraged by my parents and developed when I was completing an undergraduate degree in architecture. I’m also addicted to mysteries, preferably ones with history thrown into the mix. Born in Australia, I lived for some years in the UK before moving to Canberra. I hold a PhD from the London School of Economics and I’m a professor at the Australian National University. I do hope you enjoy the books on my list as much as I have.

Alison's book list on art theft mystery novels that don’t tell the same old story

Alison Booth Why did Alison love this book?

Every novel Peter Carey writes is a rollicking adventure and this one is no exception. I love his way with words that is always original, and his idiosyncratic characters.

Theft tells the story of Michael "Butcher" Boone, an Australian artist whose career is in the doldrums. The novel alternates between the viewpoint of Butcher and that of his "damaged" brother Hugh. And yes, there is theft in the novel,…and scams and forgeries too. This is my favourite of all Carey’s novels. 

By Peter Carey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Theft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael "Butcher" Boone is an ex-“really famous" painter, now reduced to living in a remote country house and acting as caretaker for his younger brother, Hugh. Alone together they've forged a delicate equilibrium, a balance instantly destroyed when a mysterious young woman named Marlene walks out of a rainstorm and into their lives. Beautiful, smart, and ambitious, she's also the daughter-in-law of the late great painter Jacques Liebovitz. Soon Marlene sets in motion a chain of events that could be the making--or the ruin--of them all.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in art theft, Paris, and Rome?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about art theft, Paris, and Rome.

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