100 books like The Art Whisperer

By Charlotte Elkins, Aaron Elkins,

Here are 100 books that The Art Whisperer fans have personally recommended if you like The Art Whisperer. 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 The Night Portrait: A Novel of World War II and Da Vinci's Italy

Nancy Cole Silverman Author Of The Navigator's Daughter

From my list on women of WW2 and their untold stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to travel, and I’m always interested in the history of where I visit, and what unusual and little known stories I might pick up. I spent twenty-five years working in news and talk radio and I suppose that’s why my fingers itch to get to a keyboard when I hear of an event or someone interesting that I’d like to meet on the pages of one of my books. These days it’s where I spend most of my time, crafting mysteries both national and international and always with sense of suspense, and for good measure, a little whimsey.   

Nancy's book list on women of WW2 and their untold stories

Nancy Cole Silverman Why did Nancy love this book?

When it comes to female heroism and the ultimate sacrifice to save not only lives but those cultural icons that herold times past, I have to say Laura Morelli’s The Night Portrait is top of my list.

Morelli successfully blends two timelines 500 years apart. A 16-year-old girl is mistress to the Duke of Millan and poses for Leonardo da Vinci, in hopes of securing her future.

Five hundred years later, as World War 2 breaks out, another young woman is charged with securing her future by agreeing to see da Vinci’s painting, now in the hands of a Nazi war criminal, is successfully transferred to an American soldier working with the Monuments Men. Security. War. Death. Destruction. Morelli has written it all.

Whether it was 500 years ago or today, Morelli has penned a novel of man’s basic need for peace and security in order to thrive, and of…

By Laura Morelli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Historical fiction at its best' Reader review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz meets Girl with a Pearl Earring in this gripping, dual-timeline historical novel about one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings and the woman who fought to save it from the Nazis.

'Simply a masterpiece... Fans of Kristin Hannah's Nightingale and Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See will delight in this epic novel' Lori Nelson Spielman

Between 1939 and 1943, the Nazis attempted to steal every known painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, imprisoning the original owners or worse. This is the story of the most infamous of…


Book cover of The Art Forger

Elisabeth M. Lee Author Of Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

From my list on artists by non-artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a history major and artist I noticed a style of illustrations and paintings that popped up in history books, novels, and poetry collections. I found that the paintings and drawings were just scratching the surface. The lives and struggles of the artists known as Pre-Raphaelites were just as intriguing as the art. I have traveled to the many locations that the Pre-Raphaelites frequented to follow in their footsteps. I've even tried to copy their wet white painting style and was awed by the patience they must have had. I appreciate many art styles and enjoy being transported into the lives of the artists by authors as interested in art and history as I am. 

Elisabeth's book list on artists by non-artists

Elisabeth M. Lee Why did Elisabeth love this book?

Art forgery has always fascinated me. The idea that you can create a 'new' work by an old master and then, maybe, get away with it. Claire is a struggling artist whose one chance at fame had been stolen by a lover. Reduced to painting reproductions of famous paintings for clients to hang in their home she is approached by an art dealer to secretly forge a Degas painting. The money is good enough to silence her scruples and when the painting arrives she immediately recognizes that it is one of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. Already she is having doubts but after beginning her study of the painting she suspects that it, too, is a forgery. Forged art has never been so compelling.

By B.A. Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - still the largest unsolved art theft in history - one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece - the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years - may…


Book cover of Titian's Boatman

Jennifer S. Alderson Author Of The Lover's Portrait

From my list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art.

Why am I passionate about this?

Europe’s finest masterpieces drew me from Seattle, Washington to the Netherlands, where I earned a master’s degree in art history. During my study, the restitution of artwork that had been looted during WWII was a hot topic, and one that deeply fascinated me. Ultimately, my classes and work for several Dutch cultural institutions inspired me to write my series of art history mysteries.

Jennifer's book list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art

Jennifer S. Alderson Why did Jennifer love this book?

This complex novel is akin to going on a highly enjoyable journey through gorgeous settings and two distinct periods of time. A multitude of seemingly unrelated stories set in London, Venice, and New York City, slowly intertwine and merge throughout the novel. Revenge drives one character, the desire to reach a higher social standing another, fame and perhaps wealth motivates a third, and memories of better times keep a fourth going. Yet all of their stories are connected via a single painting, Titian’s Man With the Blue Sleeve. To find out how and why, you’ll have to read this captivating novel. 

By Victoria Blake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Titian's Boatman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 1576 and Venice is in chaos, ravaged by plague and overrun by crime. In the midst of the anarchy we find those brave souls who have chosen not to flee the city. Titian, most celebrated of Venetian painters, his health failing badly. Sebastiano, a gondolier who is the eyes and ears of the corrupted and crumbling city. And Tullia, the most notorious courtesan of the age, who must fight to retain her status as well as her worldly possessions. In the present day, the echoes of what happened centuries earlier still ripple as the lives of ordinary people…


Book cover of Old Scores

Jennifer S. Alderson Author Of The Lover's Portrait

From my list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art.

Why am I passionate about this?

Europe’s finest masterpieces drew me from Seattle, Washington to the Netherlands, where I earned a master’s degree in art history. During my study, the restitution of artwork that had been looted during WWII was a hot topic, and one that deeply fascinated me. Ultimately, my classes and work for several Dutch cultural institutions inspired me to write my series of art history mysteries.

Jennifer's book list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art

Jennifer S. Alderson Why did Jennifer love this book?

No list about mysteries involving missing art can exclude Aaron Elkins! He is the author of several art history mystery novels revolving around a museum professional searching for artwork lost during World War II. Old Scores is no exception. This borderline cozy mystery novel is a clever art history mystery about forgeries, the worth and perception of art, and what some will do to 'make it' in the art world. 

By Aaron Elkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A notorious French art dealer is murdered in this "thoroughly entertaining" mystery by the Edgar Award-winning author of the Gideon Oliver series (Kirkus Reviews).

It is a headline-making story: the discovery of a previously unknown Rembrandt. Rene Vachey, the iconoclastic art dealer who claims to have uncovered it, wants to make a gift of it to the Seattle Art Museum, but curator Chris Norgren is wary. Vachey is notorious in art circles for perpetrating scandalous shams; not for profit but for the sheer fun of embarrassing the elite and snobbish "experts" of the art establishment. And thanks to the web…


Book cover of Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger

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?

Tony Tetro is one of the most successful art forgers in history and a character straight out of a movie, with a devil-may-care attitude towards his fast life among the rich, famous, and fraudulent.

His talents have fooled expert appraisers and wealthy collectors for years, including Prince (now King) Charles, who acquired paintings by Tetro thinking they were authentic works of art by Picasso, Dali, Monet, and Chagall. There are likely hundreds of his forged paintings currently hanging in museums and galleries—or displayed in private collections—authenticated as originals.

Read about his secret stash room hidden behind a mirror, his reckless disregard for consequences, and his jaundiced view of the victims of his many cons, and you’ll swear you’re reading a novel versus nonfiction. 

The key to writing a novel is to make the characters as real as possible, with all the many contradictions we find in ourselves, in order to…

By Tony Tetro, Giampiero Ambrosi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The world's most renowned art forger reveals the secrets behind his decades of painting like the Masters-exposing an art world that is far more corrupt than we ever knew while providing an art history lesson wrapped in sex, drugs, and Caravaggio.The art world is a much dirtier, nastier business than you might expect. Tony Tetro, one of the most renowned art forgers in history, will make you question every masterpiece you've ever seen in a museum, gallery, or private collection. Tetro's "Rembrandts," "Caravaggios," "Miros," and hundreds of other works now hang on walls around the globe. In 2019, it was…


Book cover of Art Forgery: The History of a Modern Obsession

Noah Charney Author Of The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock, and Rivalry Shaped the Art World

From my list on art crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

Back in 2006, a New York Times Magazine feature article about me announced that I had essentially founded the field of the study of art crime, while still a postgraduate student. I’m often mentioned as the world’s leading authority on the history of art crime and I’ve been a professor teaching the subject for more than a decade (I’m not actually that old). I also founded ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, the world’s first think tank and research group on art crime. We launched the first academic journal on the subject, The Journal of Art Crime, as well as the first academic study program, the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, which runs every summer in Italy. I’m also the author of more than a dozen books, many best-sellers, and one a Pulitzer finalist. I write on art crime for TED Ed videos, I host TV programs on the subject, and I recently curated a virtual exhibit of lost art called Missing Masterpieces.

Noah's book list on art crime

Noah Charney Why did Noah love this book?

This book is part philosophy, part on art and forgery. Most approaches, my own included, to art forgery are art historical and criminological. This one is readable and thoughtful and fun but focuses on the big ideas behind the scenes.

By Thierry Lenain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The obsession with art forgery appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon. In Art Forgery, the author's aim is not to suggest new methods of detection, but rather to look at the genealogy of faking and to interrogate the anxious, sometimes neurotic, reactions triggered in the modern world of art by these clever frauds. Thierry Lenain considers the idea of authenticity in the Middle Ages, when the issue of false relics and miracles often arose: if a relic gave rise to a cult, it would be considered as genuine even if it had evidently been 'forged'. Similarly, the seventeenth and…


Book cover of Long Time Coming

Shelley Costa Author Of A Killer's Guide to Good Works

From my list on where great art leads to even greater crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the advantages of growing up in New Jersey is the proximity to the museums in New York City. What great school field trips! And I really believe that’s where my love for art and history began. My cathedrals are art museums, great libraries, Civil War battlefields, wilderness shorelines – experiencing these places lifts me out of the dailiness of life, reminds me of struggle, greatness, and excellence. I guess it was just a matter of time before my sweet spot as a writer and reader is the point of intersection between great art and terrible crimes. Things worth writing about. 

Shelley's book list on where great art leads to even greater crimes

Shelley Costa Why did Shelley love this book?

When an uncle – presumed killed in the Blitz – turns up after serving nearly forty years in an Irish prison, he tells a story about having been one of the thieves of Picasso paintings stolen from a diamond merchant in Antwerp in 1939. At clever work in this tale are forgers, revolutionaries, and family members out to recover their treasure or their family honor. I have known for a long time that what I love most – more than mere murder mysteries – are what I call novels with murder. For me, the story has to be a beautifully realized bit of writing, and a murder is just one feature of it.

I have always loved Goddard’s style, which is both elegant and readable. And murder, more than a puzzle, becomes a natural part of the lives he depicts. Known for his plot twists, he sets me down in…

By Robert Goddard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eldritch Swan is a dead man. Or at least that is what his nephew Stephen has always been told. Until one day Eldritch walks back into his life after 36 years in an Irish prison. He won't reveal any of the details of his incarceration, insisting only that he is innocent of any crime.

His return should be of interest to no-one. But the visit of a solicitor with a mysterious request will take Eldritch and his sceptical nephew fromsleepy seaside Paignton to London, where an exhibition of Picasso paintings from the prestigious Brownlow collection proves to be the starting…


Book cover of The Last Painting of Sara De Vos

Rebecca D'Harlingue Author Of The Lines Between Us

From my list on dual timeline novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical fiction, and with dual timelines, I often find myself identifying with a contemporary character who is trying to solve some mystery from the past. I wrote an article titled Five Questions to Ask Before Writing a Dual Timeline Novel, in which I addressed structure, how to relate the timelines to each other, and how to keep the reader engaged when going back and forth between time periods. I also wrote a blog post about how fitting the pieces together for this kind of work can be a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Each of the novels I’ve recommended is an example of a satisfying final picture.  

Rebecca's book list on dual timeline novels

Rebecca D'Harlingue Why did Rebecca love this book?

I always find books about artists intriguing, and this one adds a bit of forgery, too. In 1631 Amsterdam, Sara de Vos is widowed, inheriting her husband’s debt. She paints to eke out a living, though that is not easy for a woman of that time and place. In 1957, a young art student agrees to forge one of de Vos’s works, only to be haunted by her crime in Sydney in 2000, when she becomes a famous art historian and curator.

I loved this book when I read it and went back to it again when I later decided to write The Map Colorist, my own novel set in seventeenth-century Amsterdam.

By Dominic Smith,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Last Painting of Sara De Vos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'. . . worthy of comparison to Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring and Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch . . . A masterly, multilayered story that will dazzle readers.' Library Journal (starred review)

In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted to the Guild of St. Luke in Holland as a master painter, the first woman to be so honoured. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain - a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the Manhattan bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner.…


Book cover of Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime: Australasian, European and North American Perspectives

Gail Levin Author Of Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

From my list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Distinguished Professor of art history at CUNY and biographer of artists. I grew up in Atlanta, attended college in Boston, and have worked in New York since my twenties. With a new Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers, I began as curator of the Hopper Collection at the Whitney Museum, assigned to produce a definitive catalogue of all Edward Hopper’s authentic art. His papers were missing except for his record books that recorded every time a work left for sale, loan, or gift. I traced each work as it left Hopper’s possession and discovered a massive number of undocumented artworks stolen from the estate, which the Whitney still wants to cover up.

Gail's book list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate

Gail Levin Why did Gail love this book?

I really like the discussion of the Metropolitan Museum’s celebrated acquisition of the ancient Greek Eurphronios Krater, which turned out to have been stolen from a tomb and had to be returned to Italy.

We read that even taking less valuable items “damages archaeological heritage, thereby compromising or weakening historical scholarship.”

I appreciate how this also applies to the unrelated minister who got into the Edward Hopper estate and who hid Hopper’s papers—5,000 documents—for 50 years, damaging their context, perhaps destroying some.

I wrote my biography and definitive catalogue of Hopper’s art without access to most of these papers. Now that I have seen most of them, I am relieved that my work retains its value. Fortunately, I found another source that provided many of Jo Hopper’s diaries.

By Duncan Chappell, Saskia Hufnagel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the world of law enforcement art and antiquity crime has in the past usually assumed a place of low interest and priority. That situation has now slowly begun to change on both the local and international level as criminals, encouraged in part by the record sums now being paid for art treasures, are now seeking to exploit the art market more systematically by means of theft, fraud and looting. In this collection academics and practitioners from Australasia, Europe and North America combine to examine the challenges presented to the criminal justice system by these developments. Best practice methods of…


Book cover of The Emperor's Soul

Jami Fairleigh Author Of Oil and Dust

From my list on fantasy featuring art-based magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

At heart, I believe every one of us is creative. It doesn’t matter if you express your creativity through words, notes, metal, wood, food, fabric, or paint. Personally, I love to sketch, paint, write, and sculpt. There is something magical about bringing your imagination to life and sharing it with the world! Our art allows us to share our emotions, dreams, memories, and culture with the world. As a fantasy author, I wanted to create a place where art can transform the physical world too. 

Jami's book list on fantasy featuring art-based magic

Jami Fairleigh Why did Jami love this book?

If you haven’t read anything by Brian Sanderson, this novella is a great place to start.

It is a fast read with a hopeful tone and satisfying ending. In this story, Shai is caught forging a priceless artifact. As punishment, she must forge a soul for the emperor who is in a coma. If her forgery doesn’t work, the empire will fall into chaos.

The magic of Shai’s forging is very cool; she creates stamps that can rewrite the nature of an object’s existence. The Emperor’s Soul spoke to me on a personal level. My stepmother is a Japanese artist, and I grew up watching her carefully seal her pieces with her custom, red stamp.

Highly recommended to anyone looking for that quick, feel-good punch that great fantasy can provide!

By Brandon Sanderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Emperor's Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of the Mistborn Trilogy and co-author of the final three books of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series comes the tale of a heretic thief who may be an Empire's only hope for survival.

Shai is a Forger: a foreigner who can flawlessly re-create any item by rewriting its history using skillful magic . . . although she's currently condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor's sceptre, she has one last opportunity to save herself. The emperor has barely survived an assassination attempt, he needs a new soul and, despite viewing her skill as…


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