The mysteries of Caravaggio's inventive, rootless and miserably destructive life quickly pull the reader into this biography, which reads as much like a Simenon detective tale as it does the deeply researched work of art history that it is. Even the painter's name is up for grabs, reduced here to M (it's worth reading the book to find out why). One thing is not mysterious: painting was irrevocably changed by the drama and limpid sexuality of Caravaggio's pictures--boys with eyes of precocious longing, fruit heavy with a ripeness so perfect as to be forbidden even as it beckons. Robb's slangy style and streetwise eloquence perfectly convey the originality and ruffian swagger of his subject.
--By Steven Henry Madoff