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The Murder Artist Hardcover – Jul 1 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books Ltd; Large Print edition edition (July 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846173426
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846173424
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A parent's worst nightmare is realized in Case's expertly written new thriller. During a summer-long, last-ditch attempt to reconnect with his family since separating from his wife, Washington TV reporter Alexander Callahan loses his identical twin six-year-old sons at a Maryland Renaissance fair. After facing the media avalanche outside his house, Alex and police detectives discover mysterious objects placed inside: a carefully crafted origami rabbit, a bowl of water in the closet, seven winged Liberty dimes in a neat stack. Following a "maelstrom of emotion," Alex is eliminated as a suspect and authorities concede a lack of reliable leads. Scouring the Internet, Alex discovers connections between several cases of abducted twins and his own situation, and with relentless determination he continues his investigation, traveling to Daytona Beach, Fla., to interview wary sources and Las Vegas, Nev., to research the horrific deaths of two abducted young showgirls. The kidnapper, it seems, is a malevolent magician dabbling in voodoo practices. Case's pace reaches a fever pitch as Alex chases more leads to New Orleans, where he teams up with a local albino sleuth and ends up on the doorstep of a witchdoctor who insists on a nightmarish rebirthing ritual before he'll break his silence on the killer. Northern and Southern California provide the final backdrops for a harrowing conclusion that will leave readers breathless. A long, winding narrative that's impossible to put down, this is another work of superior suspense from the author of The Genesis Code.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

After a series of fanciful international-conspiracy thrillers, Case (aka Jim Hougan and Carolyn Hougan) changes direction with this first-person, present-tense narrative that effectively plays upon every parent's worst fear. Workaholic journalist and absentee dad Alex Callahan takes his twin sons to the Renaissance Faire only to find they've vanished during the distraction of a joust. During the moment-by-moment ordeal that follows, hope recedes, and Alex's life disintegrates until he falls back on his investigative instincts in a forlorn attempt to find his sons, or at least track down their killer. Alex's dogged search takes him around the country, where he meets colorful characters--or colorless, in the case of Pinky, an albino private eye--and picks up intriguing leads about magic, voodoo, and the significance of twins. The disturbing pattern that emerges points toward a grisly use for his boys that is far beyond his wildest nightmares. Case's hero is appealingly fallible, and his gripping pursuit of a warped monster doesn't let go until the final showdown. This solid kids-in-jeopardy thriller should appeal to a wide range of suspense fans. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I read a lot of novels and it's rarely that I remember a plot so clearly, but I do with this one. I am not going to give even a single detail away. I want readers to enjoy it without knowing anything in advance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 55 reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A first-rate thriller Nov. 5 2004
By Debbie Lee Wesselmann - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In this masterful thriller by John Case (a husband and wife team), reporter Alex Callahan loses his energetic twin sons at a Renaissance fair in Maryland: one moment they are petting a whippet with a Shakespearean ruff around his neck, and the next they have vanished. The police have few leads, and the lead investigator is reassigned to a homeland security force. Alex, who cannot accept that he'll never see his beloved sons again, sets out on a trail that leads to a series of revelations, each one more chilling than the last. Helped along the way by advice from police detectives, private investigators, lawyers, and his own gut instincts, Alex fights his way toward the truth. The plot assembles the history of magic, voodoo practice, and the gruesome tastes of a psychopath into a non-stop thriller that will have most readers willingly accepting their bloodshot eyes as they read late into the night.

Remarkably, in all this fast-paced rush of a story, the authors never skimp on characterization and detail. From Alex's estranged wife Liz to the albino private investigator in New Orleans to the grocery clerk who gives Alex his final break, the characters are memorable and well-drawn; many, such as the one-lipped voodoo "houngan", are unforgettable. The settings are equally skillful, with the seedy underside of Las Vegas glitz contrasting with the more down-home grime of the swamps outside New Orleans. Even the Renaissance Faire, where the twins vanish, is brought to life with such convincing detail that it remains vivid even 400 pages later. The abrupt ending might leave some readers dissatisfied, but it thankfully skirts the maudlin.

Readers of thrillers should not pass up this breathlessly suspenseful novel. Well-written, intelligent, and fast-paced, The Murder Artist deserves a spot among the best of the genre.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
one of the best thrillers of the year Oct. 12 2004
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
International TV news correspondent, Alex Callahan covers all the hot spots around the world becoming immune to cruelty, abuse, and death. His biggest fear is not getting killed, but that his twin six year old sons will not know him as he struggles to see them periodically. That is why Alex enjoys his time with them as they wander a Virginia medieval fair.

However, the quality time together ends when he receives the phone call with the voice of a frightened tentative child crying out "Daddy." The police investigation goes nowhere so Alex employs his investigative reporter skills in cesspools to make inquiries. He finds a pattern that a voodoo crazed individual dubbed The Piper has been abducting and killing twins for years as part of a quest to fulfill a dark dream. Alex's only hope is to find a voodoo master hidden away in the backwaters of Bayou country. If he locates the master, Alex will pay a price to obtain help; the cost is being buried alive for a night by someone who might prove to be THE MURDER ARTIST or perhaps the twins' killer.

This is an exciting thriller that grips readers from the moment Alex receives the devastating phone call. The story line never slows down as a desperate Alex, filled with guilt even before the abduction, is just about over the edge with a frantic need for penitence by saving his children and stopping the monstrous Piper. Fans will be stunned by the level of tension that grows to an unbelievable crescendo in what is going to be recognized as one of the best thrillers of the year.

Harriet Klausner
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
There is a lot to like about this book June 16 2005
By clifford - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed how this book started. It stands out against other thrillers in that the protagonist undergoes quite a bit of stress as events pertaining to his children's kidnapping unfold. John Case really wallops his character Alex Callahan by throwing the system at him. The police, his wife, and the media are on his tail over the disappearance. For the first half of the book you will be on your seat, captivated by an author tweaking this genre in new directions. But then it starts to fall apart. Alex follows up on leads and the story fades from a dynamite nail biting suspense novel into a run of the mill-seen it all before mystery.

Maybe if you haven't read too many thrillers you will enjoy this book all of the way through. But Alex is not really fleshed out as a character. You will not be left with any idea of who he is as a person. At least he does not posses any superhuman attributes and remains an `everyman,' so you will be able to relate with the character. And because this book is not a character study, it has to rely wholly upon the plot. So that is why it is just such a shame that the novel sheds all of the gripping earlier structure that Case built up and instead becomes a very typical step by step process. Another thing is that Case often writes in a manner that leads the reader to understand what Alex should be doing long before he does. This occurs quite often in the second half of the book and I don't want to give away the plot. You are left screaming at the character to ask this or do that, and he usually does, but not without long deliberation.

Lastly, I just want to recommend a couple of authors that you might enjoy much more than this effort by Case. Harlan Coben has written a couple of really good thrillers recently. Try one of his later ones without the character Myron Bolitar, and skip `Innocent' his most recent book. I guarantee that it will be similar in style to `Murder Artist', only better. An author I like even more than Coben is Denis Lehane, try `Mystic River' or any of his series that deals with a private eye duo in Boston.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
First Rate Chills and Suspense...I Couldn't Put it Down! Oct. 22 2004
By Eleanor V. Miller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Workaholic Washington DC based Alex Callahan has been-there, done-that in most of the major trouble spots of the world. Obsessed by the demands of his high-pressure career as an investigative TV journalist, he's relegated his wife Liz and six-year-old twin sons, Sean and Kevin, to a distant second place on his priority scale until Liz decides that she's no longer willing to accept whatever crumbs of time and affection he has to offer. Taking the children with her, she accepts a job at a museum in Portland, Maine, and leaves Alex to discover just how empty and meaningless his life becomes without them. Desperate to make amends, Alex is willing to agree to anything she proposes that might help mend the rift: specifically, a month's trial visit from Sean and Kevin and full-time, single parenthood 24/7. One of the first lessons he has to learn is that you don't break a promise to your kids. When the boys set their hearts on attending a Renaissance Faire being held in nearby Maryland, Alex quickly agrees and then, reluctantly, is forced to stick to his word. Caught up in the spirit of the Faire, he bows to their pleading and lets the boys head for the jousting ring which takes them briefly out of his sight. In that tiny instant...they disappear, and Alex, for the first time, realizes the full weight of what it means to be a parent. Concern turns to fear turns to increasing terror as his frantic personal search becomes a police dragnet which still yields no sign of his boys. Then his cellular rings...a trembling voice from his home phone cries "Daddy"...and after it's abruptly silenced, the full horror of the situation crashes down on him. Now he and Liz become enmeshed in the media circus he knows so well from the other side of the camera, but, as time goes by with no demand for ransom or other contact, the officials reluctantly back-burner their search and Alex is left to go it alone. Now 24/7 takes on a different meaning for him. Using his job-honed research skills, he starts with a tiny clue left behind in his home for whatever reason by the kidnapper and hits the Internet for answers. A nebulous pattern begins to emerge which necessitates an increasingly far-ranging personal search that takes him from the neon wilderness of Las Vegas to the back country and swamps of Louisiana to the decadence of Northern California. When he finally understands WHY they were taken...HOW to find and rescue his boys becomes his and the reader's imperative. That's the point where this breathtakingly superb thriller quite literally becomes un-put-downable.

In his previous novels, John Case has primarily focused his attention on global issues, so this highly-personalized, domestic thriller is a stunning change of pace for him, highlighted and intensified by his use of a first-person narrator. Roughly the first hundred pages of the book explore the mindset of an abductee's parents in some depth and establish Alex as a completely sympathetic and wholly believable protagonist...essential given the trials and terrors that he's subsequently called upon to face and overcome...whom Case then surrounds with a fascinatingly diverse and equally well-realized cast of supporting characters. Fictional Alex uses research as a tool to provide him with the answers he so desperately seeks and dearly wants. John Case's obviously thorough research into the real worlds of Ren Faires, professional magic and voodoo provides his readers with an intensely interesting and beautifully-detailed background for the story he has to tell. This may well be his strongest and best novel to date, and I can't help thinking how well it would translate into a genuine blockbuster of a movie.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
WONDERFUL thriller Jan. 8 2006
By Avid Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved it!

If you like Thomas Harris you will probably like this book, though it's not as gory (but definitely has its James Ellroy moments). It's super smart with nonstop action. Had me from word one to the last word.

Now I'm looking for everything he ever wrote.