A mystery writer could not have plotted it better: an ancient convent perched atop a 2,500ft peak in eastern France, a locked library containing a priceless collection of early printed books and illuminated manuscripts, a secret passage - and a series of spectacular and inexplicable thefts.
The 8th-century convent of Mont Sainte-Odile towers over the picturesque small town of Saverne in the foothills of the Vosges mountains. One of the most popular attractions in Alsace, tens of thousands of people a year tour its abbey, church, chapel and cloisters, dine in its hotel and restaurants and admire the stunning view across the plain to the river Rhine and, beyond, the Black Forest.
Among them, from August 2000, was a curiously well-informed thief. From that date, a succession of immensely valuable works, including precious early religious texts and several dozen heavy 15th-century illuminated manuscripts bound in wood and leather, began disappearing from the abbey’s first-floor library.
(I’ll link to pretty much any news story with a secret passage in it.)