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by Vena Cork
Headline, July 2006
480 pages
ISBN: 0755323971

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Rosa Thorn is in the middle of one of the worst times of her life. Her beloved artist husband Rob was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and her daughter Anna was stalked by a nutter. But she's now attempting to pull things together.

It all gets bizarre, though, when she attends the opening of an exhibition of Rob's paintings. Clearly the manners of polite society don't apply to some of the, um, eccentrics she encounters here. What with drunken artists, pushy journalists and grasping collectors, it's not really the company you want to be keeping when you're still getting over a bereavement.

And then Rosa realises she's being followed. From that point on, what's already an unsettling time for Rosa and her children becomes even worse, as their family safety and stability is threatened.

THE ART OF DYING soon becomes one of those accounts of who you can trust, and how odd incidents can change people's lives. You think you've guessed what's going to happen, then Vena Cork yanks you back and thrusts you deeper into the undergrowth. So what looks like a nice convenient femjep, when Rosa's children are packed off elsewhere, becomes something else entirely.

This is a real page-turner -- I sat up until 2am to finish it! The ending is bizarre and creepy, and there are some big surprises along the way. Cork is most convincing on how friendships grow and die, and how minor misunderstandings can spiral out of control.

The characterisation of the eclectic cast is mostly convincing, although Rosa herself remains slightly enigmatic. She's supposedly an actress, but we don't see any evidence of her actually doing any work or being called to auditions!

THE ART OF DYING is dark, edgy and faintly gothic. It's a thoroughly gripping read, and one which might just make you view some of those trendy art exhibitions with a different eye!

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, August 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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