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 protege 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.
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.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 31, 2003
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Excerpt from The Death Artist by Jonathan Santlofer
Even before it all went bad she had the feeling it was going to be a rotten day. She blamed it on the headache, the one she'd woken up with. But even later, as the headache eased, the feeling, almost a sense of foreboding, remained. Still, she'd made it through the day. Maybe, she thought, the night would be better.
She was wrong.
"How about something to drink, maybe some coffee?" He smiles.
"I should be getting home."
He looks at his watch. "It's only eight-thirty. Come on. I'll buy you a cup of the best cappuccino in town."
Maybe she says yes because the headache is finally gone, or because the day has turned out much better than she expected, or because she doesn't feel like being alone, not right now.
"Let's walk a bit."
The night air is cool, a little damp. She shivers in her thin cotton jacket.
"Cold?" He puts his arm around her shoulders. She's not sure she wants him to, turns the thought over in her mind, sighs audibly.
She smiles weakly. "Nothing you'd understand."
Her comment annoys him. Why wouldn't I understand? He drops his arm from her shoulders -- she wonders, why? -- and they continue along another block, lined with restaurants and midsize brownstones, in silence, until she says, "Maybe it's simpler if I just catch a cab home."
He takes her arm, gently stops her. "Come on. It's just coffee."
"I think I should go."