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Discoveries: 'Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures'

Priceless

How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures

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Robert K. Wittman with John Shiffman

Crown: 320 pp., $25

Robert K. Wittman has saved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art: Goyas and Brueghels, Renoirs and Rembrandts, a Rodin sculpture, hundreds of heirlooms and priceless antiques. Chasing a Rolls-Royce along a Miami freeway or breaking up a European crime ring, he also offers his theory behind the 1990 heist at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum amounting to more than $500 million. The former

FBI

agent's blunt language, keen instincts, common sense and profound respect for art are all over this riveting memoir. He's an undercover genius, a man who puts things back in their rightful places. This should be a TV series.

Stuff

Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 290 pp., $27

It begins with the legend of the Collyer brothers in

New York

, buried under their own stuff, so deep the police, in 1947, couldn't get in the front door. That's just a friendly warning. The allure of free stuff, the beauty of piles, the self-deceptions of the collector. It's all here. And you are in here somewhere, eyes glazed, fragmented, stuffed into a corner with your stuff. Things can't make you happy. Or can they? (On the last page: a few recommendations for getting help.)

Theatre Geek

The Real Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor, the Famous Performing Arts Camp

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Mickey Rapkin

Free Press: 212 pp., $25

Stagedoor Manor, the theater camp in the Catskills, has, since 1975, attracted

Hollywood

spawn and Broadway babies.

Robert Downey Jr.

,

Jennifer Jason Leigh

and

Natalie Portman

went there.

Nora Ephron

,

Bruce Willis

and

Meat Loaf

sent their children there. The promise: Work hard and you will be a star. Mickey Rapkin reports from the front lines, looking for talent — the meaning of talent, the promises and disappointments of talent. Casting directors and agents pass through; kids learn to give their all, they learn how to fail and try again. Lose heart. Find it. Share the stage.

Elliot Allagash

A Novel

Simon Rich

Random House: 222 pp., $22

It's eighth grade, and Seymour meets Elliot. Life has been dull, but never again. Elliot is the richest little eighth-grader in America, heir to everything. Seymour is his school project: Take a decent boy and make him bad. "You're just a hobby! A mouse I've been playing with! And now I'm through playing!" It's a game of Monopoly using real people, real money. Guess who has the last word?

Salter Reynolds is a writer in

Los Angeles

.

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