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Loot
by Aaron Elkins
Binding: Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: Avon
Weight: 0.41 pound
Dimension: H: 0.75 x L: 6.92 x W: 0.45 inches
ISBN 10: 0380731622
ISBN 13: 9780380731626
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Book Description:
April 1945: In the last convulsive days of World War II a convoy of Nazi trucks loaded with Europe's greatest art treasures winds its way through the Alps toward a cavernous Austrian salt mine. With the Allies closing in and chaos erupting, a single truck silently disappears into a mountain snowstorm with its cargo of stolen masterpieces.

Fifty years later, in a seedy Boston pawnshop, one of the truck's paintings surfaces at last, pawned for $100 by a smalltime Russian thug. The next day, the shop owner, Simeon Pawlovsky, himself a Nazi death camp survivor, is dead, the life brutally beaten out of him. The painting is gone.

And the chase begins.

Ex curator Benjamin Revere, haunted by his failure to save his elderly friend Simeon, is determined to track down the killer by following the missing painting's trail. But the twisting path is a bewildering and dangerous one that winds through Europe's major cities...and back five decades to a time when Hitler's hated minions looted at will. Soon Ben finds himself caught up in the tangled roots of a conspiracy of greed, lies, hatred, and blood and imperiled by the half century old enigma of the vanished truck and its priceless legacy. /Content /EditorialReview EditorialReview Source Amazon.com Review /Source Content The gifted writer Aaron Elkins takes a break from his series about forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver (Twenty Blue Devils was the outing prior to Loot's appearance) to introduce a new sleuth, Boston art expert Ben Revere. Revere is a retired curator who helps the police when he's not supporting lost causes like the Red Sox. The shapely and exciting story begins in April 1945, when a German soldier steals a truckload of already stolen paintings and is killed by the Russians before he can trade them to the Americans for his freedom.

Fifty years later, a Valezquez painting from this bundle of loot arrives at a Boston pawnshop run by a friend of Revere's. A murder during an attempted robbery and a guilty conscience send Revere off on a chase across Europe, where a rich old Viennese count, a Hungarian swindler, and the ubiquitous Russian mafia all offer clues and/or threats regarding the remaining paintings. Revere shares with the best of the fictional world of art detectives (such as Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy and Nicholas Kilmer's Fred Taylor) an obvious love for and knowledge of what they seek. Here's Elkins on Revere's first impressions of the Velazquez:

You knew at once that, despite the quaintness of costume, or trappings, or pose, this was a real person you were looking at or rather, was looking at you and you couldn't help feeling that if you could only look at him long enough, or in the right way, you might make a connection, an actual human connection, over all those years.
That's why we look at pictures and read books. Dick Adler


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