Edward Dolnick (3 stars)

Stealing the Scream (Icon Books)


The title of Edward Dolnick’s light-hearted look at art history is misleading. This is less about the theft of Munch’s classic The Scream and more the tale of its saviour: policeman Charley Hill. The author worked with Hill to get the full story of the Scotland Yard case, and offers a personal and touching perspective of the eccentric detective, whose fervour drives the book through the drier sections.

The narrative also takes fascinating diversions into other accounts of missing art pieces and whimsical asides about their creators. Dolnick is clearly as passionate as his protagonist, resulting in an energetic pace that occasionally falls victim to repetition and awkward metaphor. At one point he compares a villain to The Simpsons’ Montgomery Burns, part of a sweet but slightly patronising effort to get even the least art-savvy aboard. A pleasantly diverting read on a complex and interesting subject.

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