This was apparently one of the big books of the year for book clubs. I really don't know what all the fuss was about. I found it boring - it was too long, the main character was not likeable (as hard as I tried to sympathize with his tragic childhood), and though there was supposedly a lot of drama I didn't really feel I cared how it ended one way or the other.
When Theo Decker is 13 his mother is killed in a tragic explosion in a museum that he survives. Before he gets out of the building he holds the hand of a dying elderly man who gives him a signet ring and tells him about a painting. Theo makes off with both the painting and the ring. He eventually returns the ring to its owner, Hobie, who turns out to be one of the best people in his life.
Because Theo's father cannot be found immediately he is taken in by the wealthy family of a friend, the Barbours. Though the family is cold and somewhat dysfunctional, they are good to Theo until his father shows up and whisks him away to Las Vegas. He wastes his teenage years in Las Vegas, befriending a shady Russian kid and numbing himself with alcohol and drugs. Eventually he returns to New York where he lives with Hobie, learning his craft of antique restoration. All this time he holds on to the valuable painting he stole, certain he will eventually be found.
In New York he gets into more trouble, gets involved with more shady characters and reconnects with the Barbours only to discover tragedy has also befallen them. The rest of the book deals with the convoluted way in which the painting finally makes its way into the hands of its rightful owners and how Theo's life continues to spiral out of control.
I really don't recommend this unless you feel you have to keep up with what's on the best seller lists just for the sake of doing so.