The Last Mona Lisa

On August 21, 1911, Vincent Peruggia, an Italian criminal, stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum. The events that transpired during the two years before its recovery remain a mystery.

Luke Perrone, an art history professor who has battled alcoholism, embarks on a quest to uncover the truth about his notorious ancestor, Peruggia. His search leads him to the Laurentian library in Florence, Italy, where he hopes to find his great-grandfather’s journal. He wants to know if a forgery replaced the stolen Mona Lisa prior to its recovery in 1913.

Assisted by John Washington Smith, an ambitious analyst from Interpol’s Art Theft Division, and the enigmatic Alexandra Greene, Luke delves into the dark underbelly of the art world. Along the way, they confront deceitful scholars, counterfeiters, stalkers, a Franciscan monk, and a Russian hit man, while the body count rises.

Santlofer’s novel alternates between Luke’s increasingly dangerous investigation and Vincent’s poignant story. Himself an artist, the author lends credibility and authenticity to the story. The book includes gripping action sequences and vivid depictions of Florence, Paris, and Nice.

The premise for this book was fascinating; I did not know the Mona Lisa was stolen, but the plot felt contrived and lacked the smooth flow I look for. It reminded me of The da Vinci Code, and if you are a fan of Dan Brown’s work, you should check it out.

I alternated between the eBook and audio, and Edoardo Bellerini’s (a two-time Audie award winner) narration was spectacular. The Last Mona Lisa has plenty of things going for it, but I thought it was just okay. I give it five stars for the plot, but just three for execution.


** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a complimentary review copy of this book. The opinions are my own.

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