The Art of Murder Paperback – Jun 2 2005
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Madrid novelist Somoza's latest thriller to appear in the U.S. (it was originally published in Spain in 2001) concerns a young girl who is found murdered and two police detectives who must find the killer before he strikes again. But it's the world of the novel that captures our interest, not the whodunit aspect. The action takes place in the bizarre subculture of hyperdramatic art, in which the works of art are actual, living people, painted and posed like living mannequins. It is a world in which 14-year-old girls (like the murder victim) can be sold to collectors, not as people but as artworks. And sold for a lot of money, too. It's a fascinating and certainly disquieting underworld, and readers are drawn deep into it by Somoza's stylish prose (nicely translated by Caistor). Fans of mysteries in which the setting takes precedence over the story should be steered toward this one. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Chilly, clever and gripping by turns.―SUNDAY TIMES
Wonderfully aberrant ideas about humanity and aesthetics are spun out of this intriguing fiction... Somoza entices us along with shifts in tempo, offbeat aesthetic and pragmatic interrogations by the two detectives, and some crankily comic visions of the f―TLS
Somoza breathes originality, wit, satire, and suspense into a moribund genre.―GOOD BOOK GUIDE
Simply delicious. It stubbornly fails to be pigeon-holed: it is a dark thriller and more... This is an important novel which demands to be read- and heeded.―IRISH EXAMINER
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Even though the concepts were slightly weird at the start, they soon became utterly engrossing. The author does an amazing job creating & developing backgrounds and characters.
Highlighting the fact that it's not a traditional "murder mystery" and that the ending is somewhat predictable is simply missing the point.
Every young, aspiring writer should read this. Easily 5 stars.
The story moves between the politics behind the investigation (not the police procedures but behind-the-scenes power struggles among different branches of Van Tysch's organization, and lots of talk about the money at stake if his priceless works are damaged or lost) and the experience of one human "canvas" as she is stretched, primed, sketched, and otherwise prepared to become a master work.
Much of the novel is taken up with that process, and with the controversies surrounding humans-as-art. The investigators cannot even agree as to whether the torture and murder of one of Van Tysch's paintings was "sadistic"-- was she, after all, human, or only a canvas?
Absorbing, complex, a great read.
As one person said "Somoza raises really provocative questions as to what we would do for art, is art good because of the way it is marketed and is it better for having a hefty price tag? "
People posing are considered art. Their whole life consists of "being" art. There are impossible positions which are held for long periods of time. People are bought and sold to hold these poses in different places - even in personal homes. They are not considered as "people" but as "art"
There are even people who are chairs, lights, serving trays, etc. Again, they are dismissed as being people - only as being "objects." They are paid - they train for their jobs. But they are "objects". CAn you imagine training for, and then spending your working days as a "lamp" ?
Nudity in the art "objects" is also addressed. There are people who protest that art is only young nude females.
As I said ... an interesting concept, bizzare and unusual... the story of the mystery itself was just real interesting to me. Others may love it