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Old 09-10-2018, 12:27 PM
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Artists in Murder Mysteries

I didn't see this topic raised elsewhere on WC.

The topic is "artists in murder mysteries." To qualify for this category, either the victim or detective must be an artist, or the murder must be committed in a community where artists gather now or in recent memory. Antiquities don't count. Jewel thefts don't count. Real or imagined famous works (stolen Vermeer, etc.) don't count. If art is merely an incidental hobby of one of the characters, rather than a prominent feature, then it doesn't count.

Prominent works:

1. Death in Brittany, by Jean-Luc Bannalec. The setting is a community that was frequented by post-impressionist artists such as Gaugin. Highly recommended to artists, although the author does go a bit overboard with the touristy descriptions.

2. Five Little Pigs (aka Murder in Retrospect), by Agatha Christie. The victim is a prominent contemporary artist.

3. The Five Red Herrings, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Opening line: "If one lives in Galloway, one either fishes or paints." Usually, both. While alive, that is.

Additions to the list are invited.
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:33 PM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

The Picture of Dorian Gray. The model kills the painter.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:49 PM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Hm.. I don't know if that counts because it is a bit extreme.

The name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

The artwork kills its makers..
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Old 09-10-2018, 09:49 PM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Oh boy, another opportunity to shill for murder mystery writing's best kept secret.

Killing Critics, by Carol O'Connell. This book, from 1996, is her third novel featuring the most complicated, conflicted, cold-blooded, brilliant, unlikeable, ruthless, unrealistic yet fully realized female detective who has ever been.

I would describe this book if a precis were possible. It isn't. There is no way any precis can possibly convey what goes on between the covers of any Mallory novel.

Here you go, the opening paragraphs of the prologue.

Quote:
Speakers were hidden in every wall, their cloth covers painted over many times to render them invisible and to baffle the sound of Jean-Luc Ponty's Civilized Evil. Throughout the evening, the dark sweet music of the jazz violin had been muted-- strings and drums subdued to the level of a backdrop for a hundred inane conversations. A ripple of notes chaining into chords wove around the art gallery patrons as a subliminal entity, and it hovered over their food and wine.

Dean Starr's head nodded, almost imperceptibly, to the beat of a drum just beyond the reach of his awareness. Much was beyond him this evening. In fact, he had just been stabbed and hadn't the wit to realize it.

The soon to be late Mr. Starr is a hack artist.

A word of warning. O'Connell is witty, but she is just about the worst emotional sucker puncher in the business.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:40 AM
chaithram chaithram is offline
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman is an imaginative book spanning different periods. The narrator is Ethan Muller, the owner of an art gallery in New York and story line dances around the artwork of an anonymous artist which was discovered unexpectedly.
Death Collectors by Jack Kerley is a gruesome novel with villainous artists or artistic villains!
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Old 09-11-2018, 09:34 AM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Yes, The brutal art is really good. The Portrait by Iain Pears and also by the same author The Dream of Scipio
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Old 09-11-2018, 10:33 AM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Several (of the ones I've read) by Louise Penny.
Though the artist is not the main character, she (and her husband) are major characters.

Clara Morrow and her husband Peter are both artists. A few quotes from her website: THE LONG WAY HOME "...The making of art and the lives of artists are recurring themes throughout Ms. Penny’s books, and her own work finds a smooth match between content and form....The searchers are on a vital quest for a man’s salvation, and an artist’s ressurection.

A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, PART 1
http://www.gamacheseries.com/a-trick...-light-part-1/

The following is a snippet of a para that I copied for myself from one of her books re Clara:
"...Embittered, mad Ruth stared into the distance at something very far off, approaching more imagined than real.
Hope.
Clara had captured the moment Despair turned to Hope. The moment Life began. She'd somehow captured Grace...."
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Old 09-11-2018, 10:43 AM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

I just read a few para's of that site http://www.gamacheseries.com/a-trick...-light-part-1/ . That book, A TRICK OF THE LIGHT is what the section I quoted is from. You can read a recap of a few chapters there.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:35 AM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Based on the short selection mentioned above, I would say that A Trick of the Light is well within the topic of this thread.

Although The Picture of Dorian Gray is not a "murder mystery," it certainly does revolve around a painting, and the artist is murdered. The original Twilight Zone television series had a condensed version, with a slightly different ending (involving a third party mutilating the painting). The book itself is worth reading, and is probably in your local public library. But most of it involves social relationship issues among the various characters, much of which is hard to map onto the experiences of other places and times. The same can be said of the various English country estate murders for inheritance, which figure so prominently in the classical whodunit genre.


Incidentally: Early in The Five Red Herrings, the amateur sleuth inspects an oil painter's kit, and its contents are detailed. But a prominent item, which would be expected there, is missing. The absence of the item leads the sleuth to infer that someone other than the artist had tampered with the kit, and therefore that the artist may have met his death by murder, rather than by what appeared to be accident. The missing item is not named. But in a parenthetical note, the author invites us to discern what it is. I am sure that all readers here would know.

Last edited by Pinguino : 09-11-2018 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:57 AM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

For a modern reader, it requires some imagination to understand how scandalous and controversial The Picture of Dorian Gray was to its contemporary audience.

Although it isn't a conventional murder mystery, Pickman's Model by H.P. Lovecraft probably qualifies.

Killing Critics has artists, galleries, thoughts about painting and sculpture (Ms. O'Connell has a degree in fine art from the U of Arizona with previous studies at Chouinard, and was a painter in New York before writing her first book at the age of forty-six), the art business and of course, critics.

It's a satire, a double-plotted murder mystery, and a novel of psychological suspense in the mold of Ruth Rendell, if Rendell had been mad as a hatter.

This may be the best attempt at describing O'Connell's work that I've come across.

Quote:
Reading one of her books is like squinting at a Seurat painting up close, each page a step backward until the pattern emerges, shockingly whole, at the end — with more than enough loose ends to make us wonder if there’s a whole other pointillist work of art embedded within the original frame.

I cannot recommend her highly enough. The rules of her road are simple-- nuke your disbelief, get on the ride, hold onto your hat and take it all the way to the end.
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Last edited by musket : 09-11-2018 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:07 PM
theBongolian theBongolian is offline
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinguino
Based on the short selection mentioned above, I would say that A Trick of the Light is well within the topic of this thread.


Incidentally: Early in The Five Red Herrings, the amateur sleuth inspects an oil painter's kit, and its contents are detailed. But a prominent item, which would be expected there, is missing. The absence of the item leads the sleuth to infer that someone other than the artist had tampered with the kit, and therefore that the artist may have met his death by murder, rather than by what appeared to be accident. The missing item is not named. But in a parenthetical note, the author invites us to discern what it is. I am sure that all readers here would know.

so what was misssing?
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:40 PM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by laf.art
Yes, The brutal art is really good. The Portrait by Iain Pears and also by the same author The Dream of Scipio


I loved The Dream of Scipio.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:51 PM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

The Da Vinci Code.

The murder takes place in the Louvre and the victim is left in the position of the Vitruvian Man.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:53 PM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Awful book. Aside from being a complete rip off of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, it's written so poorly that I found it almost impossible to finish. And the big, world shattering secret seemed just as dopey as in the original.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:58 PM
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Re: Artists in Murder Mysteries

Kerry Greenwood's Murder in Montparnasse, in the Phryne Fisher series.
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