Mike, Robert, and Allan, just regular guys bonded by a mutual interest in fine art, very uncharacteristically plot to pull off an art heist during Scotland’s Doors Open Days from the National Gallery’s warehouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. The crime requires enlisting the help of an immature but very talented art student to paint forgeries and a handful of professional thugs, including a former classmate of Mike’s, to disable guards and hold hostages. All goes as planned until elements beyond their control spiral them into rather deep trouble. New and unexpected dangers are at every turn. Loyalties thought to be rock-solid unravel, with cops and mobsters over their shoulders constantly, sparking up their nerves like firecrackers fused and ready to ignite.
Mike’s software company had made a bundle but he was seeking the kind of thrills he’d discovered money couldn’t buy. He far too much enjoys the illicit power of concealing a firearm that he never loads. Allan’s a bored banker who’s lost his wife’s affection and respect, yearning to stop feeling so spineless. Robert, an aging and ambitious art expert, comes up with the big idea to liberate a number of paintings from storage, convincing his art-appreciating buddies that they should have them.
Not the type I usually read, but picked because I’m intrigued by art theft. I enjoy high-suspense heist films such as Oceans Eleven and The Thomas Crown Affair so I figured this book would be interesting. I didn’t immediately like its main characters who take foolish risks by turning criminal out of disenchantment with their lives. But I was soon fully engaged and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen. Playing the audiobook in my car, I caught myself slowing down or taking longer routes, flying through the eight discs totaling ten hours.
Those who love fast-paced suspenseful crime reads will enjoy this book right up to the ending. There’s a nice Scottish flavor to the narration of the audiobook, and James MacPherson gives distinctive voices to each personality. The character of Detective Ransome is not as fully developed as fans of Rankin’s retired Inspector Rebus series may expect, but Doors Open is a fine stand-alone.
I delightedly discovered that the story was earlier published as a serial in the New York Times Magazine, with an mp3 recording of Chapter 1 read by Ian Rankin still available online in The Funny Pages/Sunday Serial.