Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stealing the Marbles

Stealing the Marbles by E. J. Knapp
Rebel e Publishers, 2010
Trade Paperback, 302 pages
ISBN-13: 9780986973178
highly recommended

When does a wrong become a right?
Danny Samsel has defeated the finest security systems in the world. Interpol wants him, the FBI wants him, the CIA wants him. He is a Master Thief - even the White House could not prevent him from liberating one of their paintings.
Now, after a year languishing on Kefalonia, he has turned his attention to his greatest adventure: the heist of the century. In the 19th century Lord Elgin stole pieces of the Parthenon and shipped them to England. In the 21st century Danny Samsel is going to steal them back. He has decided to return the Marbles to Greece.
His motives are not entirely altruistic: having enraged and estranged Kastania, his beautiful and extraordinary girlfriend, who just happens to be able to access and overcome any computer system, he wants her back in his life. She never left his heart. And he needs her help to steal the Marbles from the British Museum.
With help from old friends worldwide plus a few new, surprising ones, Danny and the Marbles endure a perilous journey across Europe to their Hellenic home. With dire, vicious interventions from Interpol and avaricious underworld art collectors, betrayal from a trusted friend, Danny conquers all obstacles with grit and humour. At great cost to himself and grievous loss to his accomplices, Danny rights an international wrong, settles a few other scores, foxes old foes, and guarantees the future of his chosen career.
My Thoughts:

Stealing the Marbles by E.J. Knapp introduces us to professional art thief Danny Samsel. Samsel is planning what may be the biggest heist of his career: he wants to steal the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum and return them to Greece. It is a fact that the Elgin Marbles were taken from the Parthenon in Greece in the 19th century by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, and shipped to England. The Elgin Marbles are currently in the British Museum in London. For centuries the Greeks have wanted their national treasures returned.

Stealing the Marbles follows the formula of a classic crime novel. We know right from the start what Danny is planning to do and follow along as he sets his plan into motion. As Danny travels across Europe and even, briefly to the USA, Knapp does a good job establishing the setting and giving all the details that will set Danny's plan into motion. I felt the book started out slow, but that was basically because the details of the plan were being worked out. There is tension mounting as Danny realizes there is something else afoot that may affect him and his plans. Danny is a likeable character and I have hopes that Knapp will bring him and his cohorts back for another job soon.

If you are interested in joining the campaign to Send The Marbles Home, please check out Knapp's website.

I did have a few minor quibbles that won't deter from the story for most people, but did for me. First, using all the current techniques and technology available, forgeries in art can be found today. I can suspend disbelief, but just saying... My main problem was that I noticed when Knapp referred several times to blooming flowers, they were inevitably roses, irises, and lilies. (I flagged two pages after reading previous mentions, pg 99 and 122.) As a long-time gardener, generally, if you are talking about the roses, irises and lilies I know and am familiar with, you aren't going to have the irises blooming at the same time as the lilies and the roses. I know it's minor, but it was distracting to me.
Highly Recommended

Disclosure: I received this novel from the author through Goodreads.


His eyes narrowed. His dark skin flushed darker. From under his breath came a Greek word having something to do with immorality, someone’s mother and a donkey. opening

“So what happens now?” I asked.

“Now? Nothing happens now. A hundred and fifty years we’ve sought the return of our antiquities and this fiasco has set us back to square one. Not that I’ve ever believed the Brits would return what rightfully belongs to Greece in the first place.” pg. 2

“Maybe you could just hire somebody to steal them or something,” I continued.

“Steal them!” he shouted, nearly dropping the just opened bottle in his lap. Several people at other tables glanced over at us. “Steal them,” he said again, leaning toward me, his voice lowered. “Are you taking drugs? Do you have any idea what the Parthenon Marbles comprise?”

I sighed. I’d heard an accounting of the marbles so often over the last year that I knew the inventory by heart. “The British Museum has fifteen metopes, fifty-six panels from the frieze, and seventeen pedimental statues,” I recited. “They have one of the columns from the Erechtheion and one of the ladies from the Porch of the Maidens.” pg. 3

Though I didn't know it at the time, that is what I would come to specialize in: the rearranged ownership of the 'lost' old masters. pg. 8

"There have been some problems of late. I thought it best you were protected on your journey, though of course, I saw no reason to alarm you as these...problems don't concern you."

Don't concern me?" I asked. "Dieter then?"

"Yes," she said, jumping on the thought too quickly for my liking. pg. 27

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