“When a valuable painting goes missing, there’s only one man to call: an erudite, foul-mouthed undercover officer with Scotland Yard’s ‘Art Squad’ who has so far recovered over £50m worth of masterpieces. Edward Dolnick paints a portrait of Charley Hill, aka ‘The Rescue Artist’
The story of the theft of The Scream broke over a weekend; first thing Monday morning, 14 February, 1994, the head of the squad phoned his best undercover man.
‘Charley, did you hear about The Scream?’
‘I watched it on the news last night.’
‘Do you think we can help?’
According to Detective Charley Hill, the case had ‘sweet f— all to do with policing London. But it’s too good to miss.’
Hill is a tall, round-faced man with curly brown hair and thick glasses. He is half-English and half-American, and his biography sounds as if a careless clerk had stapled together pages from several CVs.
Born in England but raised mostly in America (with a couple of stints in Germany thrown in), Hill is an ex-soldier and ex-Fulbright scholar who flirted with academia, and then the Church, and eventually landed a job as a policeman walking a beat in some of London’s most salubrious neighbourhoods.”