The Lost Van Gogh by Jonathan Santlofer
Mystery | Historical Fiction | Art
Having enjoyed the author’s first book, The Last Mona Lisa, I was very excited to receive a surprise copy of The Lost Van Gogh from the publisher. In this sequel, we once again find ourselves in the world of Luke Perrone and Alexis Verde as they embark on a hunt for a missing painting. And I have to say… I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first!
The Lost Van Gogh features, as one would expect, a missing Van Gogh that has come to light — only to suddenly disappear again. Our main characters pair up with INTERPOL agent John Smith in a fast-paced, high-stakes search to track down this valuable artwork.
The book has short and snappy chapters, told from a variety of character perspectives, but mainly from Luke’s point-of-view. With its non-stop action, it was easy to immerse myself in the (somewhat unbelievable) plot and go along for a fun and thrilling look at the underbelly of the art world.
Overall, I found this novel easier to follow than the first book but still found myself with similar critiques to The Last Mona Lisa. Once again, I found it very difficult to connect with the main characters. The book is very much action-focused, and while it makes for a fun read, I didn’t feel anything for Luke or Alex. The constantly shifting points of view added to some of the disconnect and disjointedness that I felt with this story.
However, I really enjoyed the book’s larger discussion about Nazi-looted art, repatriation, and the moral/ethical obligations of museums, art collectors, auction houses, etc. For those fascinated by art history and the art world, it’s clear that the author is well-versed with the art world and has given a lot of thought to these sorts of larger discussions. It was also very intriguing to learn more about Van Gogh’s life (as well as alternate theories on his death), and I enjoyed how the author wove fact and fiction together to blend the art and thriller genres into an entertaining read.
On a lesser note, I also need to mention that I love how connected this series feels in terms of title choice and cover design. I love it when publishers pay attention to little details like this and I thought the book design was well done. (Although the novel can be read as a standalone, I would recommend reading The Last Mona Lisa first, as there are a lot of repeat characters and references.)
While the plot of The Lost Van Gogh felt choppy and confusing at times, I had fun with it overall. With plenty of secrets, characters, and layers, this novel was a fast-paced and art-filled read!
Action-based stories featuring art and art history
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Sourcebooks. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) For years, there have been whispers that, before his death, Van Gogh completed a final self-portrait. Curators and art historians have savored this rumor, hoping it could illuminate some of the troubled artist’s many secrets, but even they have to concede that the missing painting is likely lost forever.
But when Luke Perrone, artist and great-grandson of the man who stole the Mona Lisa, and Alexis Verde, daughter of a notorious art thief, discover what may be the missing portrait, they are drawn into a most epic art puzzles. When only days later the painting disappears again, they are reunited with INTERPOL agent John Washington Smith in a dangerous and deadly search that will not only expose secrets of the artist’s last days but draws them into one of history’s darkest eras.
Beneath the paint and canvas, beneath the beauty and the legend, the artwork has become linked with something evil, something that continues to flourish on the dark web and on the shadiest corridors of the underground art world.