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The Death Artist [Mass Market Paperback]

Jonathan Santlofer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2003
Murder is a fine art ...

A killer is preying on New York's art community, creating gruesome depictions of famous paintings, using human flesh and blood as his media. Terror stalks this world of genius, greed, inspiration, and jealousy -- a world Kate McKinnon knows all too well. A former NYPD cop who traded in her badge for a Ph.D in art history, Kate can see the method behind the psychopath's madness -- for the grisly slaughter of a former protégé is drawing her into the predator's path. And as each new murder exceeds the last in savagery, Kate is trapped in the twisted obsessions of the death artist, who plans to use her body, her blood, and her fear to create the ultimate masterpiece.


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From Amazon

Kate McKinnon, a former cop turned philanthropist, art impresario, and socialite, is a heroine straight out of a Judith Krantz novel, which is not necessarily a bad thing: you can always count the brand names Jonathan Santlofer drops on almost every page, even if you're not particularly intrigued by the mystery of who's behind a string of ritualistic serial murders that are carefully staged to resemble famous paintings only a woman with Kate's arcane knowledge and aesthetic judgment might recognize. Or you could figure out who's next on the killer's list faster than Kate manages to--she can't rule anyone out, not even her husband. Despite that rather silly red herring, she finally manages to get to the bottom of things in this stylish thriller from a painter whose fantasies of murder and revenge--on critics, collectors, competitors, and gallery owners, evidently--must have required a wider than usual canvas. -- Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Painter Santlofer turns his artists eye to murder in an alternately brutal and dishy debut whodunit about a New York cop¤turned¤art historian tracking down a serial killer who mutilates his victims to make them look like famous paintings. While many in the ostentatiously elegant cast of self-serving artists, curators, patrons and patronesses hide ugly secrets, only one takes the idea of the tortured artist to the extreme. His first victim, a museum board president with a taste for sadomasochism, is found in his bathtub, arm draped over the side in the same pose as Davids Marat. Inspired by both traditional and modern art and sensitive to color, line and light, the death artist next slashes the face of a female victim to match a Picasso portrait. It's enough to horrify but not to deter ex-homicide detective Kate McKinnon Rothstein, now a wealthy, beautiful hostess of her own PBS series. She puts her talents and her marriage to the test to pursue a criminal who seems to crave her appreciation for his handiwork. The exploration of the psychology of the death artist, along with gossipy insights into the politics of art, make this book a bloody funfest for the museum and gallery crowd, never mind that as Kate investigates sexual liaisons that cross social and moral boundaries, she uncovers an array of suspense novel cliches. When Santlofer, a Pratt graduate, NEA grant recipient and Yaddo board member, airs his insider views, his observations of art and the art world lift this enthusiastic if not totally original mystery to the ranks of a high-class art opening.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Kate McKinnon Rothstein, "Stretch" to the girls at St. Anne's, having hit six feet by age twelve, strode across the pickled-ash floor of her penthouse living room, her mules click-clacking to the beat of Lauryn Hill's hip-hop soul, which echoed through the twelve-room apartment. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Larry
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Serial killer novels are always in danger of becoming quite redundant. If they are read one after the other, they might appear to be difficult to distinguish. For example, cute and clever killings has been done again and again. Immediately coming to mind are the fine novels of John Connelly. Of course, Thomas Harris must always be conjured up with his Lechter novels. Jonathan Santlofer throws his debut novel into the mix and it is the very lack of originality that that I find most irritating.
Kate McKinnon is an ex-cop who has become a famous art historian by hosting her own PBS series. People close to her begin to die. They are murdered and their bodies are arranged similar to famous paintings. Kate, a friend of the NYPD chief of police, is allowed to participate with the police in helping them crack this tough case. As she investigates, it soon becomes apparent that the killer is targeting her.
Kate is an interesting protagonist and one the reader would like to meet. However, she appears a bit too tailor made for the role she plays. How many leave the police force to become famous art historians? I had a lot of trouble buying into this concept. However, once the reader accepts this, it is noted that she is very well created. The other characters are a mixed bunch-- some are sketchily developed and others are quite stereotypic. As noted previously, the killings lack originality in their very nature of trying to be unique. The plot races along quite nicely to the less than satisfactory conclusion. The killer is a character I did not remember meeting previously. In a sense, this is cheating. The bottom line, a less than spectacular effort in a book lacking originality and a bit too long.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Keep Shopping Dec 21 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Death Artist certainly works as a page turner but fails to satisfy as a mystery, and the exploration of the New York art world is particularly weak (it's as if Sister Wendy decided to take up crime writing during a trip to the Big Apple). If you're looking for an art-related mystery, you should consider Iain Pears instead. Perhaps most unsettling about The Death Artist is the narrator's voice; however vague, there's something decidedly mean-spirited about it. Rarely if ever, does the reader identify or care about anyone in the book in any real way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Is A Debut Novel???!!!???? Oct. 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Kate McKinnon is an ex-cop socialite/art scholar/philanthopist lured back to her cop's lifestyle by a string of grisley murder's in New York's art scene. The plot sound a little trite? It could, but the author's superb skills as a novelist prevent this thriller from becoming trite. The main character of Kate is a very likable heroine, surrounded by a colourful cast of supporting character's with their own shadow's and demons making them feel very real at least to this reader. About two thirds of the way through I pondered if maybe Kate wasn't a little too perfect to maintain the gritty tone of the tale, yet Santofeler countered this potential pitfall nicely by upping Kate's paranoia to match the reader's reminding us that she could be a live person. This book does have some graphic description, yet it all is tied in with the plot as opposed to gratiutous voilence to sell copies. I was very much drawn into the art world, and explored the shadows and darkness along with Kate.
This thriller isn't perfekt but I challenge fellow reviewers to show me a perfekt thiller and I'll ask yes but can you show me a perfect one? It is close enough for me especially considering what a strong first effort it is by the author and I eagerly await some mover and shaker in Hollywood to buy the movie rights to this book as it seems almost too adaptable to the big screen, so I recommend you read this book, but careful to massage your knuckles once in a while to prevent whiteness as you peruse this page turner.
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2.0 out of 5 stars had potential, but... Sept. 3 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When I first heard about this book, I was all agog- a murder mystery set in the art world! A murderer who stages death as art! But this book proved to be a disappointment. Santlofer shows flashes of brilliance- I thought the elaborate clues provided by the murderer were good, but after a point it was just tediously gory. Definitely a lack of character development and a lot of inconsistencies. Also an arbitrary ending- it seemed like the author found a character in the book and made him the murderer without sufficient background building. The end of a good murder mystery should make you nod in agreement and want to kick yourself for not figuring it out. This one just leaves you bewildered- it could as well have been Person B as Person A. If art is your thing, do read it, but keep your expectations low. And keep an art tome handy to look up the featured art!
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The storyline of this book was wonderful--I had a hard time putting it down, but found myself skimming over some of the gag-inducing descriptions of the characters, their clothes and their fancy surroundings. With his next book, I hope the author doesn't try to fluff up the plot with designer labels and characters with "perfectly bobbed hair".
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1.0 out of 5 stars Drivel. April 15 2003
Format:Hardcover
This book has the distinct privilege of being the worst novel I have ever seen through to completion. The premise of the book was so intriguing that I felt compelled to continue. With each page turned, I had the distinct feeling (or hope?) that Mr. Santlofer had reached maximum stinkiosity. I was wrong.
Just because the heroine traipses through the streets of New York wearing Prada does not make this novel "smart and sophisticated". On the contrary: other than a few brief art history lessons, a heightened sense of materialism seems to be all that the author has to offer. There is no sense of character development, no tension to speak of, and a plot that seems to have been slapped together out of convenience. It is as though you are reading about some vague, indistinct cut-outs that are intended to represent the traditional elements of a psychological thriller. So what is left? A well dressed main character in an interesting environs. This is not enough to sustain any novel.
The fact that this has garnered any positive feedback is bewildering to the point of being grotesque. If you insist on reading this book, do yourself a favor and pinch your nostrils shut as you read.
You will thank me later.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder as Art
Jonathan Santlofer, a painter and artist, decided to take his knowledge of the art world and transfer it to the page in this nifty little thriller that is filled with twists and... Read more
Published on March 26 2003 by Sebastien Pharand
5.0 out of 5 stars A fast fun read
This was an extremely enjoyable book that really had me guessing until the end. I am a huge fan of the thriller genre and it takes quite a lot to actually make me cringe, but the... Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2002 by J. Benadon
5.0 out of 5 stars This riveting thriller is a whodunit of the highest caliber!
THE DEATH ARTIST (aptly subtitled "A Novel of Suspense") is a taut, riveting thriller set in the New York art world. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2002 by Bookreporter
5.0 out of 5 stars deep thriller
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2002 by Harriet Klausner
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling autumn reading
The premise is enticing: a string of murders, each meticulously staged to represent a famous work of art (such as the late-eighteenth-century painting "The Death of Marat"... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2002 by VNA
5.0 out of 5 stars The Death Artist: a blue chip mystery
Within just a few pages I was sucked into the world of Kate McKinnon, ex-cop, and present day art-historian-celebrity. I was prepared for a murder mystery. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2002 by glenn brill
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mystery Masterpiece
The Death Artist, by artist Jonathan Santlofer, is a page turner that's thrilling and conceptually brilliant. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2002 by Bobby Danowsky
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