Ben is an art historian. He gets a call from his friend who runs a pawnshop, saying that a guy came in and pawned what he thinks is a very expensive painting. The painting is a Velasquez, which was part of a truckload of paintings that went missing during WWII. When Ben goes back to his friend’s house, the friend has been murdered and Ben is attacked.
This is the set-up for Loot by Aaron Elkins. It is a mystery and a thriller. It has three of my favorite things, a murder, Nazi-looted art, and page-turning suspense. As Ben is starting to investigate Simeon’s murder, he gets a fax from Albrecht Stetten, an Austrian Count, who claims the Velasquez is his. He also claims he got a letter from a Czech art dealer who claims to have another Velasquez, belonging to Stetten, and part of the lost truck.
Ben goes to Austria, St. Petersburg, Budapest, and back again to try to track the art and find the missing paintings. I did not see the end coming – which is the best kind of ending.
Other than some unfortunate typos and type-setting errors, the book was really good. It was a tightly woven plot with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you interested, but not enough to confuse you. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.