Vish Dhamija is one of India’s best when it comes to writing crime thrillers. The Heist Artist is about a con man called “Captain” and his plot to get a painting that has been marred in controversy for a long while. How does the book start? Well, we are given a brief background of the Captain. Then a corrupt politician hires the Captain to “retrieve” a lost Van Gogh painting – Poppy Flowers. The painting in question is said to be in India, and the prospective buyer intends to make the purchase for 200 million! A thrilling deal, indeed.
Having a corrupt politician finance the deal makes things very easy and the Captain spends months reconnoitring the art scene in Delhi masquerading as an art professor. He locates the painting less than halfway through the book and then on, it is all thrill. The planning and execution of the heist are meticulously written. And Captain and his accomplices and successful. Or are they? When 200 million dollars are involved, will anyone be stoic about the object? A cat and mouse game follows, where greed, duty and survival play an essential part.
The Heist Artist is a thrilling book. Once it crosses the point where Captain finds the painting, it becomes one fast ride. The research, the writing add value to the book and make for a lively read. The car chases, the hide and seek… all of it is one giant adrenaline rush. Excellent work, as usual, from Vish Dhamija. I enjoyed this one for it kept me guessing at times. If I had to point out one thing as a negative, then it would definitely be the ending. After all that thrill, the ending was a bit lacklustre. As is real life. Therefore, that tiny let down can be excused.
All that aside, if I have a bone to pick it has to be with the publisher’s end. Given HarperCollins’ giant footprint in the book industry, this book falls way short on their standards of publishing. Vish Dhamija made a great story, which was wonderful to read. And as the reader goes about reading, there are the sudden ‘potholes’ of errors that will jerk your attention. A book goes through many stages from manuscript to final print, and it is disappointing that the end result was this. I hope the next print of this book is almost error-free and is a joy to read. (The copy I received was not an ARC, therefore I had to make a mention of this.)
I have to add I would give a four-star rating for this book, but since it was too irritating stumbling upon error after error, I take away one star.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Thanks to Writersmelon for the review copy.