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The Art Of Murder [Paperback]

Jose Carlos Somoza
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

2 Jun 2005

In 2006, the art world has moved far beyond sheep in formaldehyde and the most avant-garde movement is to use living people as artwork. Undergoing weeks of preparation to become 'canvases', the models are required to stay in their pose for ten to twelve hours a day and, as art pieces, they are also for sale. After being exhibited, the 'canvases' can be bought and taken to the purchaser's home, where they are rented for weeks or months.

Many beautiful young men and women long to become a 'canvas' - knowing they are a masterpeice and worth millions seems to make all the sacrifices worthwhile - especially if they can be 'painted' by the celebrated artist Bruno Van Tysch. But there is a darker side to this art movement when it is found that the models/works of art are sometimes used in interactive works - snuff movies, where the 'art' is filmed being tortured and killed. Van Tysch's work is being targeted and the investigators must find the killer before the displays of imitations of Rembrandt's masterpieces - the biggest exhibition of 'hyperdramatic art' yet seen - is put on show.

Frequently Bought Together

The Art Of Murder + The Athenian Murders + Zig Zag: A Novel
Price For All Three: £27.20

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (2 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349118833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349118833
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 17 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Chilly, clever and gripping by turns. (SUNDAY TIMES)

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)

Somoza breathes originality, wit, satire, and suspense into a moribund genre. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

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)

Book Description

* A darkly absorbing, atmospheric thriller of high culture and low morals.

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Clara had been painted titanium white for more than two hours when a woman came down to see her. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, surprising, disturbing 11 Nov 2004
By A Customer
It took me two chapters before I realised that I had completely accepted the implausable concept of hyperdramatic art. People working as canvasses and ornaments are described so well, I was caught up in a very strange world!
I bought this book looking for a good crime thriller. This is so much more. Easily the best book I've read this year
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original ideas 18 July 2005
The story is based in the art world of Europe. The most popular art is hyperdramatism, where people are the canvas. The canvases are painted daily and hold their positions, without moving, every day for 10 hours in museums or private collections. There is large demand to be canvases especially for the masters such as Bruno van Tysch and people go on training courses, take drugs to stop bodily functions and practise holding positions for the honour to become a masterpiece worth millions of dollars.
However there is a dark side to the hyperdramatic movement, with the illegal creation of ornaments where canvases are turned into everyday objects e.g. lamps, chairs, the kidnapping of children to be used as canvases and in this book the murder of some of Bruno van Tysch's finest pieces.
Although this is a murder mystery book I didn't think of it in that way. I was so absorbed in how well the hyperdramatic movement was explained and developed through the book (I could actually believe it really existed) that I very rarely thought about who the murder could be. The debate on morality throughout the book was also fascinating; is hyperdramatism cruel even though people want to be canvases, and were the victims murdered people or destroyed pieces of art.
I really enjoyed this book as the ideas were so original and I would recommend it to others to read although I'm not sure I would read it a second time. I didn't realise it was a translation till I was near the end of the book, so I think the translator did a fantastic job as the story flows brilliantly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Massively disappointing 19 Oct 2007
By Simon4
I came to this book with the highest expectations: Jose Carlos Somoza's earlier novel, THE ATHENIAN MURDERS, is that rare beast, a beautifully written page-turner that combines genuine thrills with agile and equally thrilling literary and historical conceit.

What happened? The Art of Murder is plodding and pedestrian. The erotic of The Athenian Murders is replaced by the offensively pornographic in The Art of Murder. Anyone who knows anything about art history is likely to throw the book aside in contempt, thereby doing himself or herself an enormous favour. The only thing that kept me reading to the end was the misplaced belief that things - plot, style, characterisation, suspense - must get better. They did not. A waste of time and a sad waste of the abundant talent evident from The Athenian Murders.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clara and Shade 12 Oct 2003
I read this book in Spanish 18 months ago and it was so fabulous that I couldn't put it down and have been waiting ever since then for it to be translated into English so I could buy it for all my friends. A really gripping, well-written thriller which draws you in and forces you to reflect in a new way on your own perspectives and morality - everyone should read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappoitingly slow 29 Nov 2007
I loved the concept of this book and loved the idea of combining what i knew would be a philosophical debate with crime fiction. I was ready for the most powerful and shocking read of my life. It was hugely, hugely disappointing. All the attempts at being shocking were in fact rather flat and I did not buy into the concept of hyperdramtism at all so found it very difficult to get into the swing of the moral debates being bantered around. I found the whole book rather self-indulgent and almost a book written for the author's own sake.

For me, there was not enough content in the book. Whilst some relevant and profound philosophical and psychological points are made, there wasn't enough meat on the bones as far as the actual crime was concerned which is supposed to be the basis of the book. So much time was spent building up the character of Clara but this didn't actually amount to anything in the end. Her view of the murders was never even explored when surely her view would have been the most importabt.

I really persisited with this book and struggled to get through the 600 pages. I was hoping the ending would blow me away and make the whole book worthwhile but unfortunately, it left me regretting the choice to have read it.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Murder, Jose Carlos Somoza 19 Oct 2004
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Reading a lot of crime fiction, the thing I tend to prize above all else, the thing that will most immediately impress me, is originality. And that is a quality Jose Carlos Somoza has in spades. On the evidence thus far, anyway. I hesitate to call The Athenian Murders a masterpiece, but I shouldn't really be so reticent, because it is. A completely brilliant murder mystery that turned into an examination of Plato and a shocking philosophical puzzle. It won the Gold Dagger, and the CWA will probably never make such an inspired decision again.
The Art of Murder (the Spanish title, Clara and Shade, is both better and far more effective considering the context of the novel) is similarly original, yet not quite as brilliant. It certainly won't win the Dagger again, but it'll probably still end up as one of the best novels of the year, due to its concept and the obvious intelligence that lies behind every single page.
The year is 2006, and the latest craze in the art world is "hyperdramatism". Human beings become the canvases, the art, and are exhibited in museums, bought and rented by collectors. Young men and women queue up for the privilege of being turned into "works of art", painted and signed; made famous. Individualism has gone out of the window; people are turned into a celebrated commodity.
The most acclaimed artist of all is Dutch master Bruno van Tysch, reclusive and enigmatic. However, when Annek Hollech, a model in his exhibition "Flowers", is abducted and killed, the lines between the canvas and the person behind it become confusingly blurred. Agents from van Tysch's security agency, April Wood and Lothar Bosch, are assigned to investigate the murder.
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