Thursday, July 16, 2009

"The Brutal Art" by Jesse Kellerman

Jesse Kellerman is the son of popular authors Jonathan Kellerman and Faye Kellerman. But let me say straight out that I believe this guy would have been published no matter who his parents were. I've read his book "Sunstroke" and while not outstanding, it was a decent noir-ish tale that deviated from your typical crime novel. The same could be said about "The Brutal Art", which may disappoint those after a standard crime tale.

In any case, "The Brutal Art" is leagues ahead of "Sunstroke" and a very absorbing read. The main character is Ethan Muller, an art dealer, who follows a tip from his estranged father's close friend, Tony Wexler. It leads him to an apartment in one of his father's buildings, which is full of fantastic, intricate drawings. The artist is a man by the name of Victor Cracke, who has disappeared. Nevertheless, Ethan takes the drawings, puts on an exhibition and the drawings are a big success, fetching hefty prices. But the publicity attracts the attention of a retired police officer, whom Ethan is eventually convinced to meet. It would appear that many of the cherubs in some of the drawings are eerie lookalikes to a score of young, murdered boys.

I'm not going to reveal any more than that, because the less you know the better. The plot also goes into a lot of detail about Ethan's family's past (perhaps a little too much, which is probably my only complaint about this book), slowly revealing the family secrets that have led Ethan to the situation he is currently in. Kellerman throws in a lot of tantalising elements to broaden the plot, but the resolutions are refreshingly down-to-earth and believable - a lot like real life, actually. And once we get some insight into the artist behind the drawings, your heart will break.

And in Ethan Muller, we get a character with depth and believability. Kellerman gives him both good and bad characteristics, but he's likeable from the get-go, ensuring we're in his corner as he uncovers the truth about the missing artist and his own family. With "The Brutal Art" you get a twisty mystery, interesting characters, a bit of humour and it may even bring a tear to your eye. The ending, especially, I found very satisfying. It's not your typical mystery/crime novel, but I think it's well worth a read, and I reckon Kellerman's mum and dad could take a couple of writing tips from him.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't like his first book at all but this sounds great - another to pinch and bring home next week (don't let me forget). His mum's writing leaves me cold but as you know I'm a huge fan of his dad except for a couple of his latest offerings (especially True Detectives, which i still haven't managed to finish).