John Ralston Saul - The Next Best Thing (1986)
James Spenser is a man obsessed by beauty – a collector haunted by his almost supernatural response to art. A sophisticated, complex character, he would seem the last man on earth to turn to theft. But his target is exceptional: twenty 11 th-century Buddhas from the deserted city of Pagan, Burma – their value, $1 million each.
Teaming up in Thailand with Field, a drunken expatriate journalist, and Blake, an American Baptist minister-cum-guerilla leader, Spenser finds himself unwittingly embroiled in a deadly web of private and public feuds: from the bizarre relationship between Blake and his girlfriend Marea, with whom Spenser, too, becomes involved, to the bloody rivalries of the guerrilla armies and opium dealers vying for power at any cost. Ruthless leaders and desperate individuals are brought face to face in a life and death struggle for supremacy.