Morrow, Sep 2002, 24.95, 352 pp.
The first victim was found dead in his bathtub with an arm hanging over the side as if the individual posed for David when he painted his famous portrait Marat. The second corpse could have modeled for a Picasso masterpiece. The art world is horrified and obviously frightened while law enforcement wonders if a new serial killer, THE DEATH ARTIST, has surfaced.
Kate McKinnon Rothstein feels at home with the merging of homicide and art as a former NYPD detective turned art historian though investigating a serial killer is not what she expected to do after a decade away from the force. However, the culprit seems ironically appreciative of her PBS show that leads Kate to try to stop the deranged genius from further imitating art with deadly accuracy.
Just looking at the above two paragraphs, readers will think that THE DEATH ARTIST is a by the numbers serial killer, but that would be an inaccurate portrayal of the novel. Though a serial killer tale, the story line contains much deeper insight than usual especially into the mind of the murderer and into the political side of the fine arts. It is no stretch to believe that Kate can combine her two professional experiences in an attempt to track down the homicidal artist, but what turns Jonathan Santlofer's debut novel into a near masterpiece is the secondary flavoring of an insider look at the modern world of art.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner