Books: Black Arts

THE CARAVAGGIO CONSPIRACY by Peter Watson Doubleday; 321 pages; $17.95

Early one morning in October 1969, outside the Oratorio of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily, the chapel's caretaker watched in bewilderment as a cat scuttled into the sanctuary through a wide-open door. The building should have been secured against felines, and thieves as well. During the previous night, however, intruders had forced a shutter of one of the chapel windows. Once inside, they cut away the altarpiece with a razor blade and marched out the front door with their prize: an 8-ft. by 7-ft....

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