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23 April 2010

Book Review: Flawless by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell

Title: Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History
Author: Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell
Publisher: Union Square Press
Publication Date: February 14, 2010
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN: 978-1402766510
Genre: True Crime

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From the Publisher:

On February 15, 2003, a group of thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in the international diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium and made off with over $108 million dollars worth of diamonds and other valuables. They did so without tripping an alarm or injuring a single guard in the process. Although the crime was perfect, the getaway was not. The police zeroed in on a band of professional thieves fronted by Leonardo Notarbartolo, a dapper Italian who had rented an office in the Diamond Center and clandestinely cased its vault for over two years. The “who” of the crime had been answered, but the “how” remained largely a mystery.Enter Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard Law grad and diamond expert, and Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds, who undertook a global goose chase to uncover the true story behind the daring heist. Tracking the threads of the story throughout Europe—from Belgium to Italy, in seedy cafés and sleek diamond offices—the authors sorted through an array of conflicting details, divergent opinions and incongruous theories to put together the puzzle of what actually happened that Valentine’s Day weekend.This real-life Ocean’s Eleven—a combination of diamond history, journalistic reportage, and riveting true-crime story—provides a thrilling in-depth study detailing the better-than-fiction heist of the century.

My Review:

is a fast-paced, insightful look into the world's largest diamond heist in history. Through extensive research and interviews, the authors put together the story of how the Diamond District, know as the Diamond Square Mile, as heavily fortified as Fort Knox and known worldwide as one of the most secured miles in the world, could not only be robbed, but done without tripping one alarm or injuring a single person. The authors weave together the history of The Diamond District as well as the history of buying and selling diamonds. Through the authors we learn of the 27 months of surveillance by Notarbartolo and the likely members of the heist, coined by a journalist as The School of Turin, long before the Antwerp Diamond District heist. Prior to this heist, Turin, Italy was facing a series of jewelry store robberies, where no alarms were tripped, nothing was broken, and cameras remained operational. It was as though the jewelry had vanished. Where some crimes use force and bravado, The School of Turin crew used their minds.
Flawless takes the reader inside the world's largest diamond heist and exposes what is known to have occurred and what went well for the thieves and what lead to their downfall. The authors show the flaws in the otherwise impressive security measures and lead the reader on a thrilling face-paced adventure from beginning to end. While I am not one who usually enjoys true-crime novels, I was unable to put Flawless down. The history as well as the genius needed to not only pull off such a heist but also the brilliance and dedication the investigators would need to solve such a crime, made Flawless and excellent novel to read.

About the Authors:

Scott Andrew Selby is a graduate of UC Berkeley, Harvard Law School, and Sweden’s Lund University, where he wrote his master’s thesis on diamonds. He is licensed to practice law in California and New York. Greg Campbell is an award-winning journalist and the author of Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones and The Road to Kosovo: A Balkan Diary. His work has appeared in the Economist, the Wall Street Journal Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others.

I received a complimentary copy of Flawless by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell from Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Laura Hartness said...

I bet you'd like Catch Me If You Can, the book from which the movie was based. Movie: Ok, Book: I couldn't put it down!

Thanks for your review-- I've never heard of this one. Noticed your tweet and came on over...

Laura Hartness

Felicia S. said...

Another book to go on TBG shelf for my dad! That looks like it was a great read!