• Rose Smith

Article: Navigating An Art Caper with The Art of Revenge by Joe Giordano

Photo Source: Raw Pixel

Editor’s Note: We received a copy of The Art of Revenge in exchange for an honest review.

Crime thrillers are a staple of genre fiction. While I have watched a fair share of thrillers in my life, I can’t say I’ve read plenty of books of that genre. When I signed up to review The Art of Revenge by Joe Giordano, I was interested in dipping my toe into it. I found it to be an exceedingly interesting story about art and crime although not without its flaws.

Joe Giordano’s The Art of Revenge surrounds Anthony Provati, a jazz pianist and owner of an art gallery with some family ties to the Italian-American mafia. He and his newfound companion, Valentina, find themselves in over their heads as what starts as getting to the bottom of an instance of art theft and forging ring ends up uncovering a massive, international terrorist plot that could end up taking millions of lives. This book is part of a series, but this story stands alone. There are a couple of instances of continuing plot threads from the last book that gets mentioned, but they’re not very intrusive. The book does a good job of making it easy to piece everything together on one’s own.

I would say where The Art of Revenge shines most is within its attention to detail. In much of this story, there are plenty of logistics involved. One basic question might be, “How does someone go about selling a stolen piece of art?” And the audience is taken through the planned-out steps in a way that doesn’t feel tedious or boring. This attentiveness comes into play well as we watch Anthony navigate himself between crime syndicates and the authorities in interesting, legally grey areas. I found myself coming away with the feeling that the author had done his research and was actually interested in the subject matter.

One thing that is interesting about this book is that it switches between the first and third person. The majority of the book is in the first person and told from Anthony’s perspective. Still, a couple of chapters are devoted to fleshing out Valentina and two side characters involved in the terrorist plot. For the two characters, I can understand why the author needed to shift to the third person. I could guess that the author wanted to show how the plot on the villains’ side was coming into place, and it might have been harder to try to make everything clear from Anthony’s perspective. Valentina’s side chapters, however, feel a little more superfluous. In the beginning, one of the driving forces of her character is that after leaving her orphanage and before being adopted into Anthony’s extended family, she found herself doing sex work. Even after leaving, Valentina still found herself with a lot of unresolved trauma and anger issues. Valentina refuses to delve into her past even as Anthony tries to ask about it, but I can’t help but wonder if it would have been more interesting if the audience was also kept in the dark at the same time as Anthony. There could have been a scene towards the end where Valentina does open up about what happened to her, giving a sign of personal trust and intimacy, but this plot thread never quite resolves. The author could have also resolved it with Anthony leaving things alone and letting Valentina’s past be in the past (while leaving some subtle implications for the audience so that we could take away exactly as much as the author wanted), but it more felt like we were given the answer first instead of learning with the character.

My biggest complaint about the book is likely its treatment of women. I will say that there are some things to appreciate about the female characters in this book. Valentina does work as a computer programmer and does contribute a lot to the story. I can certainly appreciate that she isn’t just sitting there, but sometimes the interactions among characters can leave a bit to be desired. For instance, Valentina meets a female crime boss in Naples that had a history with Anthony, and Valentina asserts herself by claiming that she would be a better sexual partner to him than the crime boss was. The narrator claims that Valentina is asserting herself as her own person, but the way that Valentina asserts herself is still kind of strange. If Valentina wishes to be admired for her insight and programming skills, why would she put immediately try to assert herself through sexual prowess? One other thing is that there are two attempted sexual assaults in the book. While I think assault has its own place in storytelling, it accidentally comes across as more exploitative. Both instances felt like they were being used to put the woman in a vulnerable place so that she could be saved by their prospective love interests, but using such an intimate situation twice left an uneasy feeling for me. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was another way to help bond characters together in at least one instance without having to go to those ends.

Overall, I found The Art of Revenge to be an exceedingly interesting book. I found the adventures of Anthony and Valentina to be engrossing. Once the author gets going and we really see some action, we see the attention to detail fall into place in a very satisfying manner. While it absolutely does have its flaws, I can see it finding its way to the shelves of fans of the genre. While I don’t think this book has turned me into a crime thriller convert, I can certainly see its appeal, and I had fun exploring it through The Art of Revenge.

The Art of Revenge: An Anthony Provati Thriller by Joe Giordano

Pages: 374

Rogue Phoenix Press

Photo Source: Amazon

If you are interested in learning more about this book, you can check it out on Amazon here.

Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.

You can find her on Instagram here and on Twitter here.