The Collector – Anne-Laure Thieblemont

This book had two things that possibly worked against it. First, it’s an ARC, so some errors and awkwardnesses may be down to that. Second, it’s a translation, so … well, ditto. The feel of the text might not be precisely what it is in its original French. (Example: “She hadn’t seen so many in one place”… So many what, I have no idea. I read it a couple of times, to make sure I wasn’t just being inattentive, but nope: it just doesn’t make sense.)

The book synopsis is above, and needs no expansion here.

I went to art school, back in the Cretaceous era, and had every intention of making a go of it. I didn’t. When I allow myself to dwell on that, I’m less than happy about it. So I should be grateful for books like this which peel back the wrapper a bit and give me a glimpse of an art world I really, really wouldn’t want to be a part of. It’s predatory, mercenary, vicious, capricious, and altogether ugly… So, thanks Mme. Thieblemont. (There’s apparently no French equivalent to “Ms”. Huh. Don’t know why I never knew that.)

There was some awkwardness in the writing – enough to put me off. Example: the heroine is frustrated because another character refuses to provide her with any information to help her find the three sculptures she needs to hunt down. “As long as those three sculptures remained at large, he would be master of the house and owner of everything in it.” – So, well, of course he clams up.

Manna for the birds of prey.

??

This might sound silly, but then again I’m among book folk here. So perhaps this bit of business from the main character will help explain why I didn’t like her much: “She paced the room, kicking a pile of books.”

I’m done with you.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.
#1 – Counterfeit Conspiracies – Ritter Ames – 2/2/16 – 1/11/16
I’m afraid I didn’t last long with this book either, Netgalley or no Netgalley. The first bump could have been turned into an asset, but … nope: “the Dobermans, Zeus and Apollo”. This could be awesome, or simply annoying. Unfortunately, the jury came out with “annoying”.

As often happens, there was a fair amount of awkwardness in the writing. Example: the main character goes Mission: Impossible and sprays something into the air to reveal infrared beams, the breaking of which will set off an alarm. That’s what occurred. What was written, though, was that she took out a “small, specially formulated aerosol can”. Okay. What does it mean that the can was specially formulated? In point of fact, wasn’t it the contents of the can which should have been the thing being described? It’s sort of nit-picky – but the reason I pick on these nits is because they’re not unique. When I give an example like this it’s because it’s typical of the writing.

The main character is a thief. It’s easy for me to enjoy a story about a jewel thief or some such, where a clever thief uses skill and cunning to steal from the rich and give to … himself. I mean, it’s terrible when a piece of jewelry which constitutes a work of art is broken up, but for the most part I can sit comfortably feeling no sympathy for the wronged wealthy and admiration for the clever cat burglar.

But when it comes to art, paintings in particular, it’s a whole different ball game. While I can enjoy the exploits of a John Robie (especially if he’s played by Cary Grant), I am never going to be able to get behind an art thief. But, you (or the author) may say, this art thief is stealing from thieves, reclaiming art looted by the Nazis and restoring it to the family it came from. And that’s wonderful. That’s laudable. If the book hadn’t gone the so-clever route of presenting the theft first and explaining the motive after (which I have just spoiled) I might have kept going. But when one of the first things I read is:

“I slipped a blade from my belt and ran it along the frame’s edge”

My first impression of the main character is intense loathing. I don’t see that going away, so – thanks, Netgalley and publisher, but no thanks.

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2 Responses to The Collector – Anne-Laure Thieblemont

  1. So there were Dobermans called Zeus and Apollo?!? That’s from the television show, Magnum, P.I. Same names, same breed.

  2. stewartry says:

    Exactly. (I figured I’d leave that unexplained to see if anyone would get it – and you did! You win the kewpie doll!) It could have been a plus for the book, a sort of wink and a nod – but given the rest of it it just annoyed me.

    (And I love your username.)

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