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Jonathan Argyll Books In Order

Publication Order of Jonathan Argyll Books

The Raphael Affair (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Titian Committee (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Bernini Bust (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Last Judgement (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Giotto's Hand (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death and Restoration (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Immaculate Deception (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


Jonathan Argyll is a series by Iain Pears. The renowned author and art historian is famous for his interesting and thrilling novels. Among his greatest achievements is the authorship of the Jonathan Argyll series (also known as art history mysteries). The series has seven books all of which were released between 1990 and 2000. It features a fictitious story that revolves around Jonathan Argyll, an art historian and a member of the Art Squad. The squad is part of the Italian police force. Jonathan’s closest colleagues are Flavia di Stefano who is the squad’s deputy and General Bottando who is the head of the squad.

Pears uses his knowledge and experience in art history to develop a captivating and enticing plot. He uses a series of events to introduce the main characters and the storyline. Jonathan attempts to find a long lost Raphael that he thinks is in a tiny Roman church. In the process, he gets arrested for vagrancy. General Bottando doesn’t seem to buy his theories but his beautiful assistant, Flavia di Stefano does. In fact, she is not only intrigued by Jonathan’s theories but in him as well. Bottando sends the two to try and retrieve the painting. Now they have to deal with global publicity while attempting to uncover vandalism and murder mysteries that surround the painting.

The series is very interesting. Although the story is fictional and tailored, it is not far from reality. It features multiple themes that have been intertwined to produce one breathtaking storyline. Pears manages to engage the reader by introducing typical day to day happenings. For example, Jonathan and Flavia become lovers within a short period of working together. The two love birds have to be separated when Jonathan leaves Rome but they have a fling every time he comes visiting. The author also describes art and its history with utter precision that paints vivid images in the reader’s mind. That is aided by his introduction of Jonathan who is well educated and experienced in art.

Pears’ multiple themes are connected by a smooth flow of events from the first book to the last. For instance, Pears uses the main character (Jonathan) throughout the whole series so that the reader is able to link one event with another. Basically, the main character is the focal point of the story and that plays a big role in making readers to relate him with events and other characters. That relation is very important since the whole series is filled with mind-blowing turns and twists. There are murders, vandalism, art raids, and life threatening experiences. Amidst all that, there is also the admirable and lovely relationship between Jonathan and Flavia.

The seven book series is not meant for art lovers only but for a general audience. The fact that the author changes the story’s setting every once in a while gives it different perspectives that can be very exciting for readers who are looking for much more than art. Whereas the main story is set in Rome, Italy, it is not restricted there. Jonathan himself is British but most of his activities are in Italy. At one time, the author uses art-related killings to shift focus a bit from Italy to America, France and Britain. In fact, by the third installation of the series, the reader finds Jonathan in sunny Los Angeles trying to conduct an art trade with the Moresby Museum. The changes in setting are important because they ensure you don’t get bored by a monotonous story that is set in one single location. The genius is Pears came up with Italy as the central setting because the country is rich in art and art history but also involved a number of other countries such as America, France and Britain.

The Jonathan Argyll series has excellent characters. Jonathan is supported by Flavia and Bottando. In addition to the two, the series also features many other support characters like Hector di Souza, Corrado Argan, and Mary Verney. The author also invested a lot of time and effort in ensuring that its language, tone, and allusion are top-notch.

The first book of the series is The Raphael Affair and it was first published in 1990. This installment introduces the main characters and the main themes. Jonathan Argyll finds himself in a tricky position when he is arrested in a Roman church for vagrancy. When asked for an explanation, he gives a series of theories that justify his search for the Raphael – a painting that he believes is in the church. Whereas General Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad doesn’t believe the theories, Flavia di Stefano; his assistant does and when the two (Jonathan and Flavia) are sent on a mission to retrieve the painting, they end up falling in love. Soon, they are forced to run for their lives from eminent danger that is connected with their discovery of murders and vandalism. This first book is rich in exciting themes, twists and turns as the recovered painting is surrounded by cases of forgery, government bureaucracy, arson and even murder. Amidst the need to stay focused, Jonathan and his new found lover have to deal with their ever growing love. The book was a perfect start for the series.

The second book is The Titian Committee. First published in 1991, it opens with a series of murders. First there is the murder of Louise Masterson whose body was found in the Giardinetti Reali with stab wounds. Then there is Tony Roberts who suspiciously drowned in a canal. Finally, Georges Bralle’s body is discovered in his home in France. He died by suffocation. Speculations indicate that the murders are related to art dealings and the the responsibility of probing the exact motives now lies in the hands of Jonathan and Flavia. Meanwhile, their love has blossomed to the point that it has become a somewhat stable relationship. Now they have to deal with their emotions and also find a portrait that is missing.

The series is definitely worth your while as it mixes art, crime and Rome in a way that no other series can. The continuous storyline is an added advantage because each novel is a continuation of the previous one and that means you won’t have to build a fresh foundation for each installment.

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