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May 3, 2012

The Irish Game by Matthew Hart: Book Review

Posted by Wendy Ewurum  |  at  4:24 PM

I read a number of great books during my pregnancy hiatus and I thought I'd take a brief moment to tell you about one of them. Oh and by the way friends, baby did arrive on the 17th April, she's all of 15 days old today. I share some pics of her on my personal blog: Meet Mikaela, Our Latest Gift, so if interested please hop on over.


Author:    Matthew Hart
Series:     N
Genre:      Crime Non-Fiction. Art Non-Fiction
Publisher: Walker & Company; (May 1, 2004)


In the annals of art theft, no case has matched—for sheer criminal panache—the heist at Ireland’s Russborough House in 1986. 

The Irish police knew right away that the mastermind was a Dublin gangster named Martin Cahill. Yet the great plunder —including a Gainsborough, a Goya, two Rubenses, and a Vermeer— remained at large for years. Cahill taunted the police with a string of other crimes, but in the end it was the paintings that brought him low. The challenge of disposing of such famous works forced him to reach outside his familiar world into the international arena, and when he did, his pursuers were waiting.

  • One of my aims this year was to start reading non-fiction works and my very first of this genre was this book, while patiently waiting for the delivery of baby Mikaela in hospital. I could not have read a better book to introduce me to non-fiction. This was is so interesting I had a hard time believing that the events really happened or that the people lived and most probably still do. The story of art theft and crime in Ireland is truly movie quality, full of mystery, suspense and  audacious characters.
  • It is informative and educational without being overwhelmingly detailed or boring. The author somehow managed to balance entertainment and documenting real life events in a way that  would keep the reader gripped. It reminded me a lot of Tracy Chevalier because I never imagined that having this much art related information could be so riveting. I loved it as much as I love her novel, The Girl With The Pearl Earing. I'm only comparing the entertainment bit here as the non-fiction book has factual accuracy, unlike the novel. The more I learn about Vermeer, the more I appreciate the man and his work. I also loved that Hart included other art theft related events that introduced me to not only masters who are new to me but a differently world of the super old moneyed and their lives. 
  • And last but not least, who would have thought that such a cultured and elitist activity (art collecting) could have such an intimate relationship with something as ignoble as drugs but there we are. What is most disturbing is the lack of relationship between the thief and the paintings which results in much damage being done to these master pieces.   
  • Owing to it being a mainly Irish story, I did feel a bit of a disconnect when the author it suddenly travelled to a separate part of Europe, especially with the amount of characters that are involved. There is redemption however as Hart connects the dots in the end and bring it back to the main story in Ireland. 
This is a brilliant book and I know I'll be referring back to it time and again. I am quite stoked that I picked this up from my dusty shelf even if it took me forever to actually read it.

  • You can also get your Hardcover copy at my online book store: Fabulosity Galore
  • Book source: I bought this book sometime last year and its been patiently waiting in my TBR pile ever since.
  • If you're interested reading more of my reviews then click HERE.
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About the Author

Most know me as the author to Fabulosity Reads and in actual fact, that is the previous name of this blog. I have since then moved my books to a Wordpress self-hosted blog so that I can have a place to show a different side of me which I am equally passionate about and that is marketing and personal development. I hope you will love being here, watching me grow as I share and learn. My highest hope is that we will grown and learn together in all disciplines affecting our lives. I'd LUUURRRVE to hear from you, so don't be shy...


  1. First, congratulations on your new arrival. Always an exciting time.

    Sounds like a book I'll have to read. I love reading books about artists and their lives. This is a little different, but sounds intriguing.

  2. Say welcome to Mikaela! :-)

    The Irish Game sounds like a great read. I think I watched a documentary about the same story once.

  3. Wendy,

    Glad to have you back! You make this sound like a very interesting read. The author is good to make non-fiction read as captivating as this.

  4. Congrats on baby Michaela!

    I loved Girl with a Pearl Earing. Maybe I'll pick this up for my summer reading.

  5. Hi Wendy, just stopped by to find out how you're doing. I hope all is well. Take care. Much love. xoxo


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