Very few people in the FBI have anything to do with stolen art –it’s just not a big enough or necessarily high-profile enough area of expertise. But Bob Wittman solved art crimes at the FBI for years and Priceless is a memoir of his time trying to recover stolen art. By working undercover, he creates relationships with thugs and criminals, eventually setting up situations where he gets the art and the bad guys get in trouble. In theory.
I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the art history, the theft stories, the way the author played the set-up situations. I grew to have a real respect for his ability to think on his feet in some pretty frightening circumstances. He’s honest about his mistakes and while part of it did feel like he was sort of “tattling,” for lack of a better word, on people in the Bureau who made his job really frustrating, I still liked to read about the internal workings of the organization from his point of view. I came to appreciate how logically intense uncover operations can be. I didn’t need him to tell me, every time there was a press conference, that he kept in the back out of the view of the cameras, but beyond his repetitive use of the word “wiseguys” there wasn’t anything else that annoyed me.
I just found myself always interested in reading it. He tells a very unique story. I actually finished wishing there was more to read.