Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
by Ryan Leahy
The Vanishing of the Mona Lisa
The Vanishing of the Mona Lisa is a captivating novel that ties past and present and peers into the mind of an infamous criminal. At one point during the novel, the character lives as a young child with his mother in a rundown shack under the name Bollino. The next time the character appears in the novel, he is living under a completely different name, has a different persona and is in prison. Not to mention, this book continued to flip flop through times in his life, which makes it even harder to follow along. This novel is not for people who don’t enjoy thinking while reading. You have to pay attention to the details! If you don’t, you might miss something crucial!
Martín Caparrós created a new reality by basing his novel on the actual theft of the Mona Lisa on August 22, 1911. Two years later, Vincenzo Peruggia was arrested when trying to sell the painting in Florence, but the actual thief was never caught. This was a piece of historic fiction that created a perfectly believable character that could have committed the crime.
Fifteen years pass and a man called “the Marquis de Valfierno” refuses to die without telling an American journalist of his life and the crime. He started off as the son of a servant woman living in Buenos Aires and became the most notorious conman.
It is a challenge to read this book, but overall, it was worth following. Capparrós spun a thrilling web of intrigue with the characters that he created. One, for example, named Victoria, was a very sinister woman that offered Valfierno the job and let him do the heavy lifting. She is able to manipulate everyone she comes in contact with by using her looks and charm and is even able to trick Valfierno.
Valfierno was not a real man and did not steal the Mona Lisa, but the way the book was written makes the reader feel like he was actually the mastermind behind the crime. The actual culprit was never caught. I absolutely loved everything about Valfierno. He was so interesting and had the most intriguing back story. He always got his way and was able to manipulate people easily. The book brought us inside of the twisted mind of a sociopath, and it is a unique experience and novel.
I would not recommend this book to everyone. Only people that want to go inside the mind of a criminal will enjoy the story. Some people probably will not like that it continues to go back and forth between past and present, but it is a great read.
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