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by Jesse Kellerman
Sphere, June 2008
416 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847441521

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

An elderly tenant disappears from a New York slum, leaving behind a collection of disturbing, yet brilliant, drawings. Art dealer Ethan Muller hangs the pictures in his gallery and sees the money come flowing in. Soon, however, the police want to speak to Ethan the drawings appear to be linked to crimes four decades old. Ethan soon finds himself drawn into the investigation.

Like Kellerman's two previous works, THE BRUTAL ART is an extremely intriguing and well-written novel. It is narrated mainly in the present in the first person, which enables the main protagonist to provide both humour and insightful commentary. The novel does, however, switch to the past for brief periods, filling in the backstory for the reader, and leaving us wondering how much Ethan is going to find out.

The denouement is interesting, as it is rather unexpected. The loose ends are neatly tied up, as is the case in any "real" detective story Ethan Muller is at pains to tell the reader that he is no detective, whether amateur or professional - but without giving us any real detail about the final few events. These are, perhaps, something better left to the reader's imagination, since they can then put their own interpretation on how the story would finally pan out.

Interestingly, the blurb suggests that this novel will appeal to anyone who enjoyed THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER. I was in no way a fan of that novel, which made me approach THE BRUTAL ART with some trepidation. There was no need, though, since this thriller is excellent on all levels. Well-defined characters, a very good mystery, some humour, literate writing and, perhaps best of all, great originality. Jesse Kellerman once again has a success on his hands and proves that he has moved well outside of the shadow of his illustrious parents.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, June 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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