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The Brutal Art [Paperback]

Jesse Kellerman
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Dec 2008
Ethan Muller is struggling to establish his reputation as a dealer in the cut-throat world of contemporary art when he is alerted to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: in a decaying New York slum, an elderly tenant has disappeared, leaving behind a staggeringly large trove of original drawings and paintings. Nobody can tell Ethan much about the old man, except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged. Despite the fact that, strictly speaking, the artwork doesn't belong to him, Ethan takes the challenge and makes a name for the old man - and himself. Soon Ethan has to congratulate himself on his own genius: for storytelling and salesmanship. But suddenly the police are interested in talking to him. It seems that the missing artist had a nasty past, and the drawings hanging in the Muller Gallery have begun to look a lot less like art and a lot more like evidence. Sucked into an investigation four decades cold, Ethan will uncover a secret legacy of shame and death, one that will touch horrifyingly close to home - and leave him fearing for his own life.

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The Brutal Art + I'll Catch You + The Executor
Price For All Three: 18.87

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; Reprint. edition (29 Dec 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751540285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751540284
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jesse Kellerman was born in Los Angeles in 1978. He is the bestselling author of The Brutal Art and three other novels: The Executor, Trouble and Sunstroke. He graduated from Harvard and has won several awards for his writing, including the Princess Grace Award, given to America's most promising young playwright. He lives with his wife and son in California.

Product Description


Literate and thought-provoking....Kellerman is a master of menace (Daily Mail )

A most accomplished novel by a writer of great imagination and skill (Sunday Telegraph )

An enthralling, character-driven drama (Daily Record )

Kellerman has a gift for creating compelling characters as well as for crafting an ingenious plot that grabs the reader and refuses to let go. (Publishers Weekly )

Book Description

A thing of beauty is a joy forever - or at least until it kills you.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lumpy, bumpy and unsatisfying 14 Nov 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Other reviewers have discussed the plot of this book so I won't repeat that. I started thinking that I would enjoy this as Kellerman has caught the voice of Ethan Muller very well, and the opening chapters with the mad, violent painting(s) felt like they were going somewhere.

But the whole thing dissolved with extended lifeless flashbacks which are so obviously going to meet up with the `present' plot, and a dull romance element that goes nowhere.

The writing is frequently clumsy and bitty, like lots of sections have been cut and pasted together without a clear flow, and the whole thing needs a good edit.

Very disappointing as there could have been a good story somewhere under all this, but it disappears beneath the mess.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Chip off the old Blocks 19 April 2009
By E. Heckingbottom TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
So often one picks up a book written by the son, daughter, partner or sibling of a famous author and ends up feeling disappointed by either the quality of plot or the quality of writing - or both. There is always the fear that the only reason why their work has been published is because of some form of nepotism. When I picked up Jesse Kellerman's first novel eighteen months ago, I was doubly unsure, as both his parents are well known thriller writers (Jonathan and Faye Kellerman); however, I need not have worried. Jesse is a gifted author in his own right. Along with his two other books, his third published novel, The Brutal Art, is in no way a disappointment. Elements of both parents writing, along with a strong writing style of his own, make Jesse Kellerman's work a pleasure to read.

This novel opens with the discovery of a huge number of pieces of amazing works of modern art in a small flat - panels that fit together to create a mammoth scene, created by a man named Victor Cracke - who has totally disappeared. Before long, art dealer Ethan Muller has set up an exhibition, and the work is selling well. However, a retired police officer sees a photo of the central panel in the newspaper, and the search for the missing artist rapidly moves into a murder mystery as Ethan discovers that the cherubs at the centre of the work closely resemble five young boys, murdered many years earlier.

Did Victor murder them? Indeed, who was Victor Cracke? Why has he disappeared, and where has he gone? Why are so many people interested in him, and what connection does he have with Muller's own family history?
All these questions - and more - are answered in this intriguing novel as we find out more about Ethan Muller - about why he is so estranged from his own family - and about Victor Cracke himself; a victim of circumstances in many ways.

All in all, a very good read and well worth a try.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nearly enjoyable but disappointing 19 Oct 2012
This novel starts with promising the middle of the book one starts feeling 'cheated' on the storyline and by the end of the novel, expectations are not me... Flashbacks are often boring with no real thrill to read... Some good fewl lines about the Art World - Art Movements but nothing that cannot been read on Wikipedia!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable read 30 May 2010
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
'The Brutal Art' begins with Ethan Muller, a rather selfish and egotistical young art dealer, discovering a stash of drawings by a mysterious and reclusive tenant of a building owned by his estranged father. The artist, whose whereabouts are unknown, is a curious and disturbing character, reminiscent of Henry Darger. The rest of the novel deals with the consequences of this find, interspersed with episodes in the lives of Ethan's ancestors.

This book was very readable, gripping me from the start. Ethan is a lively and honest narrator, telling the story with wit and humour (sending up thriller conventions in the process). Although exciting 'The Brutal Art' is also subtle and as a whole it is a moving and thoughtful work, with all the different threads cleverly coming together.

It is a shame that the misleading blurb paints this book as more of a straight thriller, and I can imagine that some people might therefore be disappointed at not having their expectations of the genre met.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing 16 Feb 2009
I read the previews of this book and was looking forward to a really good read - how disappointed I have been.

I did persevere, despite losing the full thread of the story after 100 pages or so, and I finally got to the end yesterday. I am not quite sure what I have read, however at the start of Chapter 22 the author starts three consecutive paragraphs that for me sum up the book....
1. If I am still writing a detective story - and I am not quite sure that I am.....
2. The bottom line is, while I'll do my best to keep you entertained.....
3. Now, if I'm keeping track of my story, and really you have no idea how difficult this is......

I should have read those first, as a warning.

Not one for me, I shall steer clear of this author in the future.
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER KELLERMAN ON THE SCENE 28 July 2008
Faye and Jonathan Kellerman are both bestselling thriller writers, but it seems that their greatest contribution to the genre could well be their son, Jesse, whose latest psychological drama is as startlingly original as his first two. This author, already an award-winning playwright, has no need of blood, bullets, guts and gore to build tension; he knows exactly which buttons to push to keep readers anxiously engaged - even when the plot apparently involves nothing more sinister than a New York art gallery owner, Ethan Muller, who discovers a cache of brilliant but disturbing drawings by a mysterious artist who has since disappeared. Ethan puts the pictures on show, and they start to sell for large sums. But then it begins to emerge that the artist could have been involved in a series of brutal child murders 40 years before, and the drawings might even be evidence. Kellerman writes with grace and style, and shows very nimble creative footwork when long buried secrets about Ethan's own family begin inexorably to break into the fictions so carefully constructed by people who want the past to remain somewhere else.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good multi-dimensional thriller.
I had to persevere with the slightly bizarre first few chapters, where the main character seems to be apologising for not being Raymond Chandler and comes across as being... Read more
Published 3 months ago by worldtrekker
5.0 out of 5 stars No, no and no...
Everything about this book should make it a tight thriller...except the author won't allow it.

Everything about this book should make it a "message"... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sophia
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and well-written scenes of institutionalise abuse
I gave this a 4 because, although the plot goes nowhere and the climax is non-existent, the writing itself is highly skilled. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Matt Westwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting Read
Read it on the beach while on holiday. I found it thoroughly involving and finding out what was happening entertained me a lot. Read more
Published 11 months ago by M. R. F. Matthews
4.0 out of 5 stars Voyeuristic somehow..
Well I have never read any of this authors parents work so that wasn't a factor at all for me. Indeed I had already purchased the book based on the cover and blurb on the back... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr. A. I. Harrison
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I really enjoyed this - exciting and gripping, some of my book group found it unrealistic, but I was engaged from start to finish.
Published 17 months ago by Abbidabbi
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Really enjoyed this book...interesting and well described characters and detail really brings the book to life and great way to see different sides and understanding behind the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jeni
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time.
I liked this. I have been out of reading for a while, and this was the second thing I've read this year and was really pleased I did. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kye van de Silva
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing
Have to say that I expected more from this as it started out so well. I liked the jumping back and forwards in time angle but unfortunately it spoilt it a bit as it gave too much... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Very 'ish'
I'm really not sure what genre this book could be slotted into. It's a detective novel without a real crime, it's a mystery without a real mystery, it's an art book without any... Read more
Published on 30 July 2012 by P. W. H. Bradley
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