Master Thieves by Stephen Kurkjian

Genre: history
Secondary genre: heist
Format read: audiobook
Rating: planchet-3

If you read yesterday’s review of The Map Thief, then this book ties in very nicely with it, but is much more enjoyable.

Art enthusiasts and fans of heist fiction might be familiar with the story of the Gardner Museum theft in 1990 when 2 security guards were tied up and locked in a room, 13 works of art were stolen, and other were damaged in what appeared to be a random act of vandalism.

This book follows a slightly different investigative route than the police, arguing that the plan to rob the Gardner and the plan the thieves followed was thought up by another man–a may who was serving a prison sentence at the time of the robbery and had no connection to the crime. Which begs the question: Who were the thieves? How did they find out about the plan? And above all, where are the missing artifacts?

A real life mystery, Master Thieves reveals how what at first appears to be a hap-hazard robbery leaves many questions and no clues.

I really really enjoyed the story, though on audio it was a little hard to follow, frequently jumping between different criminal elements and naming many people in quick succession. I think it would have been a bit easier for me to read if I’d had a hard copy or ebook, but it was still quick to get through and I wasn’t bothered by my few moments of confusion.

Aside from the obvious link of being about theft of cultural objects, there is one other link between Master Thieves and The Map Thief: The changes in how crimes involving museum objects and cultural items had a direct impact in how the crime at the Garden was investigated, and how it would have been prosecuted, had there been any leads on who committed it.

If you enjoy art history, mob stories, or books like Catch Me If You Can, then this is worth giving a try.