The Raphael Affair Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Raphael Affair

English graduate student Jonathan Argyll has come to Rome because he believes his subject artist, a minor 18th century Italian painter named Mantini, may have painted over an early 16th century masterpiece by Raphael, so it could be sold and sent out of the country by an English buyer. Then Mantini painted a copy of the original.
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When the painting is tracked down and revealed, it sells at auction in Britain to the Italian government, which spends 10 million lire to keep it in its "homeland." But not long after it finds a permanent home in a national Italian museum, somebody vandalizes the painting, burning it beyond salvage. Moreover, Argyll and an art researcher with the Italian National Art Theft Squad named Flavia de Stefano have begun to think the Raphael itself was a fake.

Soon after, one of the midlevel executives of the museum is found stabbed in the back, and Jonathan and Flavia must track down the real story of the painting, as well as the murderer(s), although it doesn't help that Jonathan himself is a prime suspect. This 1990 novel was the first of Pears's series of Italian art mysteries.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

An English art scholar believes he's uncovered evidence that a painting by Raphael was painted over by a second-rate 18th century artist, and that he has located the painting. This, of course, creates quite a stir in the art world, and the Italian art crime squad gets involved.

When the painting is located and uncovered, and a previously unknown Raphael painting revealed, the painting is bought for a huge amount of money at auction by the Italian government, and put on display in a museum in Rome.

At a gala event, the painting is destroyed (by burning), and the head of the Italian art squad has to not only solve the mystery of who burned the painting, but find a way to withstand the political troubles accompanying the loss of the painting.

When someone involved with the painting turns up dead, there is a murder to solve as well. Working together, the art squad and the English art scholar (who is a prime suspect himself) must solve the murders before they themselves become victims.
The review of this Book prepared by Wendy S.

Chapter Analysis of The Raphael Affair

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 15%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 50%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 15%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical How difficult to spot villain?    -   Moderately Challenging Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999 What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   40%    -   nearly 100% Murder of certain profession?    -   museum nerd Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect    -   Big focus on forensic evidence Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, Foreign Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   art/artifacts Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   government investigator    -   scholar Age:    -   20's-30's    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK    -   Italy City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Unusual forms of death    -   dropped from large heights Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Iain Pears Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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