Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Review : Stealing the Mystic Lamb

Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney. Public Affairs, 2010.
[release date: October 5, 2010]

[Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers]

Stealing the Mystic Lamb is an account of the many crimes perpetrated against the Ghent Alterpiece, also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. This book represents exactly the kind of non-fiction I don't enjoy. Rather than the "riveting narrative" claimed on the back of the book, I found Mystic Lamb to be a a dry, and sometimes repetitious, presentation of facts. The detailed description of the piece and background history of Jan van Eyck, the artist, and the city of Ghent became tedious to me. I kept plowing forward hoping the narrative would become more engaging when I got to the thefts. However, I finally lost my patience when I reached page 79 and the story of the first theft was set to begin. Instead, the author regressed into a primer on the French Revolution. For what I think was the third time, Charney decided it would be "useful" to digress into a history lesson before coming to his point. I come from a history background, but was frustrated that the topic the book promised to address had still not come to the forefront. Unfortunately, I have too many book on my TBR pile to continue slogging through Stealing the Mystic Lamb hoping for an engaging story. A true art historian may find Stealing the Mystic Lamb a fascinating read, but I'm leaving this book unfinished.

Most of the other Early Reviewers appear to disagree with my complete disappointment though, so feel free to see what they have to say here.


  1. Sounds like this could have been a very interesting book.

  2. I don't enjoy that kind of non-fiction either, so I'll skip this one.

  3. If you didn't finish it, then you shouldn't review it.