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Publisher's Summary

Set in Rome, The Raphael Affair features the perpetually beset General Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad; his glamorous assistant, Flavia di Stefano; and Jonathan Argyll, a British art historian. When Jonathan is arrested for breaking into an obscure church in Rome, he claims that it contains a long-lost Raphael hidden under a painting by Mantini. The painting disappears - then reappears in the hands of the top British art dealer, Edward Byrnes. How has Byrnes found out about the hidden masterpiece, and whom is he acting for?

There is also the curious matter of the safe deposit box full of sketches closely resembling features of the newly discovered painting. A hideous act of vandalism occurs, then murder. Bottando faces the most critical challenge of his career, and Jonathan and Flavia find themselves in unexpected danger.

©1990 Iain Pears (P)1996 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“A clever thriller.…Pears balances politics, love, and danger nicely in a plot that has a cunning and satisfactory outcome.” (Sunday Times)
“Masterful and calls for an encore.” (Houston Post)
“Presents a world the author knows well in the satisfying way Margaret Truman and Dick Francis set their mysteries in milieus they know.” (Associated Press)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Beautiful art, elegant wit and amusing writing

If you could sum up The Raphael Affair in three words, what would they be?

Very happy to see Iain Pears's art history mysteries finally coming to audible. He's a superb writer (see An Instance of the Fingerpost if you want a long, enthralling listen), and lucky for us, a superb mystery plotter too. A hapless English academic, the delightful Italian policewoman who interrogates and then fascinates him, and the avuncular chief of police are all finely drawn, and the story bubbles along with pockets of hilarity. This is one of Ralph Cosham's very best outings—he's eminently suited to both the silly-ass and the thoughtful side of Jonathan. I hope the other books follow quickly!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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As Good as it Gets

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I loved these books when I first read them a decade ago. I recently began to reread them and when I found this unabridged on Audible.com I was very excited. I love audio books and to be able to listen to this book was a pure delight. It was all I had hoped it would be.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Jonathan Argyll is the perfect combination of bumbling humility and skilled historian, and he more than anyone cannot tell the difference sometimes. It's impossible not to root for him in his lovelife and his professional life. What's wonderful about this series is that Jonathan's life is not a series of successes piled one after another, it's more like two steps forward and one step back. Sort of like most people's lives.

What about Ralph Cosham’s performance did you like?

Ralph Cosham's English accent hit the mark perfectly for the characters and his Italian accents were unstrained and natural. He did not read his female characters by putting on a falsetto voice, for which I am very grateful. Nothing ruins a book faster, in my estimation.

Any additional comments?

I love art history and this is what attracted me to the books in the first place, so this element adds greatly to the novels for me. However, I don't think an art history background is required to enjoy and understand the storylines.
Iain Pears' mystery novels are intelligent, funny and stand the test of time.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Expository and tedius

What disappointed you about The Raphael Affair?

The lack of strong story and characters. The endless exposition.

Would you ever listen to anything by Iain Pears again?

I have but not sure I will again.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was not the problem

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Raphael Affair?

If I were an editor I would not call them scenes; this isn't a screenplay. But if I were going to edit this novel, I would take out most of the expository passages and ask the author to convert to dialogue and more important, STORY ... action and choices ... and ask that the stakes be raised, that a stronger sense of jeopardy be imposed onto the main characters.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mmday
  • Cherry Hill, NJ
  • 05-21-15

Great narration

Make no mistake, this is a terrible book. The characters are weak,bland, uninteresting. The story is dull and largely uneventful. This only shows the brilliance of the late, great Ralph Cosham. His voice,its timbre and inflection remain so compelling that you can still enjoy the experience of listening. I would have shut this book down in an hour but to hear Ralph's reading I lasted through the end notes. What a great narrator. What a loss to audio book devotees.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • 2Ponds
  • Somerset, CA United States
  • 10-03-12

3 and a half stars!

I don't know how to make this better than 3 stars, just not quite 4. My audio book expectations are to be entertained, and this does. Good story, holds together reasonably well and some dry humor thrown in. Overall good entertainment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A lovely first by Iain Pears

If you could sum up The Raphael Affair in three words, what would they be?

Thoughtful, moderate, enjoyable

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I had a long car ride and this book worked nicely.

Any additional comments?

I love mysteries as a genre but they are not always great literature. They rarely rank 5 stars but the best of them are quite enjoyable. The Raphael Affair is a well thought out mystery. The story follows along logically without the need for stupid plot twists, still there are some surprises. I enjoyed Mr Pears descriptions of Italy, of the food, and of the art. If I weren't driving I might have joined in with some antipasti and wine. I look forward to reading/listening to others in his series. I'd give this story 3.5 stars and a high recommendation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Love the reader Ralph Cosham

If you could sum up The Raphael Affair in three words, what would they be?

Interesting art history!

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the historical facts about great masters and how they were painted over so they could get out of Italy...very interesting detail. It reminded me of Dan Brown books!
I didn't know this author's work, I only ordered it because it was read by Ralph Cosham!
Fortunately I enjoyed the story as well!

Have you listened to any of Ralph Cosham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I only ordered it because of the reader! I fell in love with his voice when listening to Watership Down (one of my favorite books of all time). I also just finished listening to him read "Return of Sherlock Holmes"...I think he could read the back of a cereal box and make it sound fascinating! I am about to start "Still Life". Again I never heard of this author but ordered it because Ralph Cosham is the reader!
I Wish I Could Find More Books Read by Him!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Clever

Lovely little story. Great ending. Engaging characters. Very different than the other book I read of his.

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  • Nando
  • Dayton, Ohio, United States
  • 05-08-15

Another great Iain Pears

Loved it. this is the second time I listened to this book. My wife listened also while we were on a rode trip. Love the details and the character development.

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Disappointing art history adventure

Only good thing about this is the reader, Ralph Cosham, who makes almost anything entertaining. Silly plot, hard to follow, and only slightly believable as fiction.