I’m a big fan of caper novels so Scott Von Doviak’s Charlesgate Confidential, loosely based on the heist of paintings worth millions from the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, intrigued me from the first page. The plot of Charlesgate Confidential runs on three tracks. The first track is set in 1946 where the heist takes place. The second track is set in 1986 when the Charlesgate–once an elite Boston hotel–serves a college dormitory. The third track, in 2014, finds the Charlesgate transformed again as an up-scale condominium complex.
Charlesgate Confidential resembles a screwball comedy with wacky–but dangerous!–characters either pulling off the heist in 1946, or trying to find the missing million dollar artwork in 1986 and 2014. Shuffling back and forth between the time-lines is tricky, but Scott Von Doviak manages to juggle all the characters and schemes brilliantly.
It’s impressive that Von Doviak captures the tenor of the times from the criminal milieu of 1946, to the drug and alcohol fueled students living in the Charlesgate dorm in 1986, to the swanky Charlesgate condo residents in 2014. If you’re looking for an entertaining caper novel, I highly recommend Charlesgate Confidential. GRADE: A-