Brothers Tony and Bill Perrine, amiable but inept small-time thieves, are wellsprings of schemes for their profit and experienced at devising inventive adaptations to the changing situation on the move – but they still have few successes. We see them in action, always alert for opportunities, and learn about some of their past ventures, and their skill at fantasizing scams and then analyzing the realities of those to avoid the most unworkable ones - but still seldom thinking the plans all the way through. In a classic tale of a well-planned scheme that falls apart for the little guys who get used and abused but then turn the tables, they decide to steal a valuable painting called "Starry Eyed Dreams" from an office without really figuring out what they will be able to do with it once they have it. They are spotted by art critic and collector Malcolm Chaney (currently nursing injuries from his own recent secret attempt to steal that painting cat-burglar style from the owner's home) who recognizes them as potentially useful to his own plans. The Perrines see where the painting is hung and get the general layout of the offices. They sneak in at night and after considerable trouble get to where the painting was hung - only to find it has been moved to small local college to be part of the opening exhibit for a new art gallery. The brothers scout out the college location and the security measures for the exhibit by general snooping and in various specific ways. They go into the art building as volunteer helpers and leave their fingerprints everywhere so finding them later won't prove anything, while also learning the layout of the place. They apply for temp jobs as college security guards. They pose as waiters at the exhibit opening reception to see things up close. Tony even meets a new lady while posing nude for a college art class as a way to get another woman to help them. Chaney, who is a security consultant for the exhibit, spots them several times but does not interfere, he even covers for them. Later he contacts them anonymously and offers them money and the help of a key to the building to steal the painting for him. They readily agree since they have realized they can't fence a well-known painting themselves. The Perrines use that key to sneak into the art exhibit late at night. After dodging laser alarms systems and surviving a fan-powered wind storm that wrecks half the exhibits, they find that the painting is moved to a special storeroom each night and camouflaged in there. Now knowing this, they sneak in a second night and go directly to the storeroom where they remove many paintings as a necessary part of getting the one they want. They succeed – only to have Chaney steal their van with the paintings, leaving them with nothing for their work and the risks they took except the police looking for them. The brothers don't take this well. They are alert enough though to realize that the electronic tracking device that had been on the painting is now in their van that has been parked by their house. They take fast action so when the police arrive based on a phone tip neither that device nor anything else incriminating is in their house or van. They have clues to Chaney's identity so they confirm that, then pay an unannounced visit to his mansion where they find his secret hiding places and remove some of their contents before they anonymously tip the police – who home in on the tracking device that is now back on the painting in Chaney's mansion. That and various other stolen art works are found inside – but not a lot of valuable items that Chaney knows should have been there but he can't mention that. With the help of Tony's new girlfriend a group of stolen art works are returned for their substantial and no-questions-asked rewards. The brothers will be able to live simply but comfortably for a long time and to fantasize about jobs they might still pull to keep themselves from becoming bored.
|Book:||The One Percent Solution: A Novel|
|Number of Pages:||274|
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