A Beautiful Crime by Christopher Bollen is a literary thriller in the full sense of the word; beautifully written, atmospheric, immersive and just plain fun. The novel is set mostly in Venice, where two young men try to pull off heist, stealing from a millionaire and hoping he won’t really notice. The two con men, Clay and Nick, are Americans, both escaping chaotic personal and professional lives in New York City. They set off on a new relationship and aim to use their smarts and charm to sell counterfeit antiquities and ultimately fund their future life together. Lots of things, people and in fact, Venice itself, get in the way of crime but, as the title suggests, the whole thing is so beautiful I didn’t mind at all.
Clay, one of the main characters, gets to Venice by means of an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Listen to this podcast about Peggy Guggenheim and how she came to set up that museum for more background. Readers who enjoyed Snow Falling on Cedars, Ordinary Grace or The Secret History would also enjoy this novel.