It is always tough for children to attempt to follow in their parents footsteps, sure the famous name might help open some doors to you and give you a leg up, especially helpful in the competitive world of thriller writing but when the parents are Jonathan and Faye Kellerman then your work is always going to have to stand up to some pretty intense scrutiny, I have read a lot of Dad's work, less so Mum's and this is the first book I have read from son Jesse and it was not bad. He cut his teeth as a playwright according to his website and picked up some awards along the way.
This is a psychological thriller so again focusing on the family speciality and the central character is a New York art dealer called Ethan Muller. He has a troubled relationshiop with his father who runs a huge family corporation and only really communicated with his father through a third part, Tony Wexler, when Wexler gets in touch he asks Ethan to come and view some art by an artist called Victor Cracke, the problem is the artist cannot be traced and Ethan is fascinated by the work however it seems that the art contains a number of secrets that attracts the attention of a retired police officer and soon the hunt for the artist involves Ethan in a murder case.
This is a fast paced thriller and while some of the plot twists were a bit predictable the book still manages to create enough suspense to hold the readers attention. It is told in the third person and you certainly get a feel for the obsession that Ethan has in discovering the truth behind the artist.
The main let down of the book is the rather flat and what felt like rushed ending which left me mildly disappointed, this often happens with thrillers, the build up not being able to be matched by the climax and that for me is what differentiates an average book from a great one. The ending has to have that "wow" factor and this book lacked that.
Having said that it is a competent enough thriller and I would be prepared to read some of his other material, the characters are well developed and the pace of the book is good. Not the greatest thriller have ever read and certainly not a match for his Dad when he was in his pomp but a good book all the same and one worth reading.
Every so often when I'm doing my shopping in Asda I'll have a browse around at the books, one day last year I came across the novel 'The Brutal Art' by Jesse Kellerman and it had the Richard and Judy book club sticker on the front and having read other novels stamped with Richard and Judy's approval thought I'd give this one a go too. I only just got round to reading this a month or so ago and finally finished it last week, so immediately you can see I didn't find it as encapsulating as the previous novel I reviewed by 'Linwood Barclay'.
==Who is Jesse Kellerman?==
Jesse Kellerman is the son of both Faye and Jonathan Kellerman who are both critically acclaimed best selling thriller writers. Born in 1978 in Los Angeles Jesse studied psychology at Harvard, so it's not surprising that the genre he chooses to write in is that of the psychological drama/thriller. Jesse Kellerman already has a number of award winning playwrights under his belt that have been produced throughout the united states.
Jesse was awarded the Princess Grace Award for America's most promising young playwright in 2003 and spent the next year writing his first novel Sunstroke which was accepted for publication in June 2004.
==The Brutal Art "The Genius"==
This is Jesse Kellerman's third Novel first published in January 2008, and the first that I've chosen to read by this particular author. Titled 'The Genius' in the United states (not sure why the need arose to change the title for UK publication) 'The Brutal Art' is a story full of mystery, suspense, drama and it really does capture the imagination and draw out emotion. The book is written very artistically with pages containing graphic details of events making the story more realistic to the reader.
The novel is written in third person and is from the perspective of Ethan Muller, an art dealer in New York with a passion for his job and captivating art. Ethan is estranged from his father and his only communication is through a family friend and employee of the Muller Corporation; Tony Wexler. Out of the blue Tony contacts Ethan and tells him he needs to meet him at one of his father's many accommodation blocks in the New York slums to look at some art that has been discovered, the artist 'Victor Cracke' seemingly having disappeared without a trace. Reluctant at first Ethan eventually decides to go and see this artwork for himself - he has a great deal of trust in Tony who has been good to him and he also knows that Tony has an eye for exceptional art, so his curiosity peaked he makes his way to the apartment.
The art Ethan is faced with is an amazing compilation of modern art divided into small panels designed to fit together to create one colossal piece of artwork which of course Ethan has to exhibit. What is contained within the artwork however unlocks a mystery decades old, Ethan is contacted by a retired police officer who claims to recognise faces contained within the drawings and before long, the search for the missing artist quickly turns into a murder mystery, and what Ethan doesn't realise is that the creator of these works of art is closer than he could ever know.
===My personal opinion===
From the beginning of this novel I found myself to be drawn into the life of Ethan Muller, the rich New Yorker, estranged from his father. His hunt for the missing artist Victor Cracke is nothing short of obsessive and the chaos created by the art is depicted very convincingly in Ethan himself as he becomes more detached from his work at the art gallery and more involved in what appears to be a very old murder mystery.
Throughout the novel we are confronted with a torrent of twists and turns, each with their own level of excitement and intrigue. Overall I found the story to be well constructed, with unusual but well crafted interludes set in a different time period, popping up every so often, confusing the reader but also adding an element of intrigue as to how these interludes would tie in with the present day. The one thing I will say is that I found the ending to be a little abrupt and somewhat empty. I expected there to be more of an emotional climax at the end but all I was left with was the feeling that I had been robbed of a good ending after having read such an inventive novel.
As this is the first novel I have read by Jesse Kellerman, I would like to say that I wouldn't rule out reading another of his novels as I did find this incredibly interesting. He touches on themes of isolation, sexuality and ignorance and ties all of these themes together to make an interesting and captivating read, that comes dangerously close to reality. There is a somewhat misguided love story intertwined which I think spoiled the book for me a little but overall, an enjoyable read.
You can currently buy the Brutal art on Amazon for 5.99 with free delivery but I'm sure if you tried out the likes of E-bay you'd get it much cheaper.
The novel itself is 416 pages long and is published by sphere.
If you enjoy a good psychological thriller then I would definitely recommend that you give this a go as I thought this was a very well written and constructed work by Jesse Kellerman, who is clearly following in the footsteps of his parents. Watch out for this one because I believe it won't be long before Jesse makes it up there with Jonathan and Faye in the Best selling thriller category.
I just finished this book today and thought it was brill, it's deffo not the sort of book I'd usually read but the story was so interesting that I couldn't put it down once I started and was even reading it while I was putting my washing away yesterday!!!
The story is about Ethan Muller who owns an art gallery in New York, one day he gets a tip about some art that has been left in an appartment block that's named after his dad. The art is some of the best he's ever had in the gallery and there are thousands of sheets of pencil drawings, they're all numbered on the back and when they're put together they form a massive map.
After he exhibits them he gets a phone call for a retired policeman who says he recognises some cherubs in the drawings as boys who was killed 30 years ago. Ethan starts investigating and finds out who was behind the murders with the ex policemans daughter who is a DA.
It flicks between modern times and the 1800s and sort of tells 2 stories in one. The story starts off with Ethan and sticks with him for ages and then there's a chapter set in 1818 when Ethans ancestor comes over from Germany and the historical bit comes closer and closer to the present so we find out about how Ethans family made their fortune.
It was proper interesting reading about how Ethan and Sam found out who the murderer was but I thought the book was a bit slow. The chapters are majorly long as well so it feels like you're reading for ages just to get to the next bit.
I love how the book is written because Ethan is a bit comical and even though that usually sounds stupid in books and mega forced it doesn't in this book because of how down to earth Ethan is over all. I wasn't mad keen on Sam because she was too bitchy to everyone and come across as a proper know it all because she was so snappy with the answers.
I liked her dad, the retired copper called Lee but he dies early in the book and that's how Ethan and Sam are thrown together. I reckon the story would have been more exciting if he'd been left alive but he'd have probably sussed the murderer out too quick!!! lol
The ending was a bit rushed I thought but it was still good, it was like I was reading an majorly exciting story and then suddenly it was finished and I was left with nothing else to read! That done my head in a bit because I hate books like that usually but the ending is done good and everything comes together in the last few pages.
First of all let me introduce you to Jesse Kellerman:
He is the son of 2 of the best mystery writers of the last 20 years; Faye Kellerman and Jonathan Kellerman. He is now making a name for himself in the same genre, and although the name isn't a hinderance he certainly is proving his worth with this book.
This is Kellerman's 3rd novel; following in the footsteps of 2006's 'Sunstroke' and 2007's 'Trouble'. This is my first dip into this novelists work and I may well be back tracking to read his first 2 books if they are anywhere as intriguing as this one.
Publisher by The Little Brown Book Group in the UK and you can search/order it via the ISBN: 9780751540284. It's not an epic novel at 416 pages but it is just long enough to hold you attention without the plot getting watered down.
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.
This book get's your literary juices go from the off. Jesse Kellerman writes in a superb style that drags you in and doesn't let go, you feel like you are on a journey with him and are learning as he does. I don't like books that are predictable and this book is definately not that, sometimes it is shocking other times you feel you are beginning to understand why the characters have made their choices. I always felt I was in the book as it is that engrossing.
The story is fresh and captivating with just enough darkness to pull you down. The characters are well built and even though at times you may not like them you know that they are a true representation of just how entangled and complex people are and how much times have changed regarding the bigotries this novel tackles.
I adore books with dual time zones which was my first attraction to the novel (beyond the fantastic edgy cover) and it did not disappoint. You feel, as you read, that you are being let into the darkest secrets of the characters without it being obvious, almost like peeping out from behind the curtain.
The tale is spun with such heart and soul especially as it tackles quite sensitive subjects. I believe this book to be one of the best I have read in a long while.
I got this book for my birthday, and I'm glad I did as I probably wouldn't have picked it up myself as the brown cover doesn't really stand out. It has a little sticker on the front that says it is part of Richard & Judy's book club.
=== The Story ===
The story is told by Ethan Muller, who is an art dealer in New York. In one of his fathers flats the tenant has disappeared and all that is left behind is boxes and boxes of drawings. These pictures are all drawn on individual sheets of paper but they all link up to make a huge picture, they are strange but brilliant pieces of art. Ethan takes the pictures to his gallery and then tries to discover who the artist is. He gets help from a retired detective who sees the central piece of the art in a newspaper and recognises that the faces on the cherubs are young boys who were all murdered a long time before. When this is revealed the art shoots up even more in value but someone wants Ethan to stop and sends him threatening notes, but will Ethan manage to uncover the truth and find the mysterious artist?
==== My opinion ===
I did really enjoy this book and the story in it although I felt the back of the book made it out to be much more of a thriller than it actually is. Rather than being filled with violence and dead bodies it much more of sinister story and really descriptive read. It is told by Ethan, who comes from a privileged background but who doesn't get on with his father and rebelled against him a lot until he found his love of art and became an art dealer. He appears to have become disillusioned though and as he gets more drawn in to the investigation he forgets all about his art gallery and also his relationship with his girlfriend Marilyn. He becomes a much more likeable character as the book goes on as you learn about his past and how he has ended up the way he is because at first he comes across as quite arrogant and spoilt and has no interest in helping the detective because he worries it might devalue the art.
Throughout the book there are what the author calls interludes which start back in 1847 and tells the story of the Mullers, generation by generation, so we learn about Ethan's heritage and it gives a better understanding of why his father is the way he is and it unravels some of the mysteries.
Although it is not a particularly fast paced book it is written so well that you want to keep on reading to find out what happens. The interludes are placed well so that you uncover information to piece together what is happening in the main story and these stories are told just as well with great descriptions and gives us more understanding, as the reader, of other people in the book as the main part is told just from Ethan's point of view. The story flows really well and all the loose ends are tied up well at the end and left me with a satisfying conclusion.
I also found it a nice change not to have a detective or professional investigator as the main lead for the book. Although there are professionals involved it is not heavily written into the story and so there aren't police procedures or details to really follow.
If you enjoy a really well written story with a sinister side to it then I think you will really like The Brutal Art and I highly recommend you reading it. The author has written a couple of other books and I will look out for these as I enjoyed this one so much.
Published by Sphere.
Paperback 404 pages.
New York Art Gallery Owner Ethan Muller discovers a group of drawings that are both brilliant and highly disturbing. The artist seems to have abandoned his drawings, and Ethan takes it upon himself to display and sell the drawings in his gallery to much success. However, when he receives a phone call from a retired policeman about the content of the drawings themselves, they both realise that Ethan could be sitting on the missing pieces of a mystery involving the deaths of small boys during the 1960's and 1970's.
The more Ethan becomes involved with solving the mystery and finding the artist, the more danger he appears to be in, whilst the mystery seems to involve him more than he could ever have imagined.
There are two stories that are interwoven throughout, Ethan is telling his story of what happened when he discovered the paintings and the mystery surrounding them and the author, whilst every so often there is an interlude which relates the Muller family history, right from when the first Muller came over to America. As the story wears on, these interludes become much more interesting as you can see that they have a very clear link to what is happening in the present and it really is edge of your seat stuff.
The painting story is just as fascinating; and from page one the book draws you in with interesting and likeable characters. Ethan seems to be hardened to life, brought up in rich surroundings but extremely rebellious. He is young and carefree and concerned only for his business but still, from the first page he admits in the past he wasn't a very likeable character. Through his interactions with the retired officer and his daughter, he becomes extremely warm and likeable and his attachment to the story behind the paintings is enjoyable to read.
One main negative I had with the book is probably a rather gruesome one; I would have liked the paintings to be described more; we are told that they are both beautiful but brutal but little else, so I guess they are left to the reader's imagination. Just to know why the artist drew such pictures would have been enough but the intrigue that develops makes it a great page-turner. In fact, I found myself whizzing through the chapters to find out what happened next.
This really was a fantastic book, and the interwoven story gave it a different twist. It is billed as a thriller, but I am not quite sure you can claim it as such. There is a murder mystery attached to the central story, but it is more of a detective novel with a bit of family drama!
In fact, when I finished the book, I found it amazing that I was thoroughly engrossed in a story when all was said and done lacked so much substance. In fact, I guess some might think it was a huge disappointment and feel a bit ripped off by how little actually takes place and how very little of the story is interesting when it comes to the modern day side to the story. Despite this I was drawn in, the key to the success of this book was the author's knack for suspense and good characterisation which made this a real page turner. The plot as I've mentioned, although good, is something that seemed a bit thin on the ground when I think back to what I read. The front of the book likened this to that of "The Interpretation of Murder" which I have read and enjoyed, but I cannot see how they were similar apart from geographically. However, this was a satisfying read, thought provoking, utterly intriguing and one that I would recommend.
I picked up this book last week for two reasons:
1. It was a Richard and Judy book club book - which I always find these are pretty enjoyable
2. It has a quote from one of my favourite authors on the front and I thought if he liked it it must be good!
What's it about--------
This book switches between two interwoven tales -that in the modern day of Ethan Muller - the son of an extremely wealthy man who now owns a fashionable art gallery in New York, and that of his ancestors from their arrival as immigrants to his father. The book opens with Ethan being called to a scruffy apartment complex which is owned by his father's corporation. The caretaker has discovered an abandoned flat which is literally filled to the rafters with drawings. Ethan is shocked to discover these drawings are inticate and wonderfully detailed and fit together like a map with numbers on the reverse.
Ethan takes the drawings and makes a fortune exhibiting and selling them in his gallery. As the story unfolds he becomes more and more interested in the artist -why is he missing? who was he? where is he? With the help of a retired Police Officer Ethan develops a theory that the artist could be a murderer who raped and left for dead a number of young boys in the 1960's and 1970s. Ethan goes on a journey which nearly breaks his career to discover to identity of the artist and to prove to himself that he is not peddling the work of a murderer.
Is it any good?---
This book is billed as a kind of thriller, and it is definitely a page turner, though not what you would expect from a traditional crime novel. For a start most of the crimes have already happened in the past. The book is more of a detective novel where the reader is as fascinated as Ethan by the mystery of the missing artist. It is one of those books you literally cannot put down but it's not crime-trash, it's an intelligent novel with some interesting themes about art, and attitudes of the past (not giving too much away!). A great read. Highly recommended.