Art of Death

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Title: Art of Death
Author: Ana Bosch
Cover artist: Shobana Appavu
Publisher: Dreamspinner press
Amazon Buy Link:Art of Death
Genre: Mystery/thriller/suspense with some fantasy
Length: 256 pages
Rating: 3.5  stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: This was  a very well written book and the plot engaged me almost from the get go. I however found the main character to be repulsive and thus I cannot grade it any higher.

Blurb:

Despite the support of his rich older boyfriend, starving artist Riley Burke is determined not to be a trophy—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school. It’s important to him that he pay his own way, so when the artist Coliaro requests a private modeling session with him, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.
Then he hears the rumors—that Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.
The source of these rumors is a man named Westwood, who claims to be an instructor at the school and warns Riley not to get involved. Riley ignores the advice—but when the rumors pan out and another murder looms, he turns to Westwood for help. Westwood is clearly keeping secrets. He’s dangerous, and Riley doesn’t know if he can be trusted—which makes him all the more attractive. Riley is in way over his head… and his involvement with the undead may make him the ultimate target.

Review:

I was very bored, my reviewing queue was almost empty and I decided that a longer book by a new to me author was something that I could handle even if I would end up disliking it. You know how they say be careful what you wish for? The book worked and did not work for me and here is why.

The book worked because I thought that the mystery/thriller parts were really good. It was engaging, fun and kept me glued to the pages. I also loved the settings and I thought that the arts were researched very well. In the author’s brief bio in the book she states that she is a freelance illustrator, so I am assuming that she incorporated some of her real life knowledge in the settings of the story.  In any event, I thought that settings were done well and fantastical element was incorporated in “our” world very well. When I read the blurb and saw that it mentions “undead”, I absolutely had no idea where the author will go with this definition and what does it mean in the world of the story. I really liked the direction she took “the undead” in, it was creative and fun for  me.

Here is what I did not like though and here is where the spoilerish part of my review begins. At Goodreads the book is characterized in the description as “mystery/suspense with the strong elements of mm romance”. I really have to disagree  that romance of any kind is taking place in this book and here is why. As I said in my summary, I found Riley to be quite repulsive character and even if love story had more page space, I would still have trouble calling it a romance.

As blurb tells you when the book starts Riley is in a relationship with somebody. I thought he treated that somebody  as absolute crap throughout the book. He lied and lied and LIED to his boyfriend, because said boyfriend may be worried about Riley and asking him not to continue his investigation. Have I mentioned that Riley continues to do so after he had a *very* close brush in with death and his boyfriend’s worries are more than justified? I have not “met” such a TSTL twit like Riley in quite some time in mm romances. It is as if his first encounter when he barely got out alive meant nothing to him.  However having said that, I may have forgiven his stupidity, since it is quite normal for “investigators’ to behave that way in quite a few mm stories I read. It seems like otherwise the mystery would not get solved in so many of them (thank g0odness not in all), so I would have rolled my eyes and when it was done said something along those lines, addressing the main character in my head - “whatever, I hope you will be more intelligent when the next mystery comes along. “

It gets better though. I may have mentioned it in  some of my previous reviews, but I  want to reiterate : - I have absolutely no problem with *well written* cheating in mm romances. For me actually cheating is an excellent tool to explore the both characters’ in more depth and I love to see how the guys change and either decide to try for a second chance or even to start the new relationship with somebody else. Remember how I said *well written* though? I did not think it was well written in this story at all. While Riley investigates, he is getting madly attracted to another man as the blurb tells you. Do you think he does anything about it in regard to his  boyfriend? For example does he *ever* come clean about his lying, cheating self and either breaks up with his boyfriend or wants to try again to honestly work on the relationship? Not really I am afraid. I did not think that Riley learned anything from his experience. From time to time he would tell himself that he was sabotaging his relationship with Nick, but he never did anything about it.

And the resolution of this storyline just felt to me as such cheap cop out, which resolves the mystery nicely, but made me shake my head again.

I guess I recommend it for the mystery, just do not expect to see much romance or a likeable hero.

13 thoughts on “Art of Death

  1. Raine

    I had very similar experience with this one Sirius, I really liked some of the secondary characters, but the main guy was very unappealing. The bad guy cop out ending was such an annoying disappointment too. :sad:

      1. Jwin

        I finishedthis one 3-4 days ago andI actually really liked the MC. But maybe that’s because I didn’t sympathize with the boyfriend and I liked the romance between the MC and the undead guy. To each his own, I guess.

        Now I feel like a social butterfly, making 2 replies in 1 day. lol. Should i quit while I’m ahead?

        1. Sirius

          Hi Jwin, please keep making those replies :). I definitely see how if you like the main character you would enjoy the book more than I did. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Val Kovalin

    Thank you, Sirius! An appealing character is everything to me. I get so annoyed when I pick up a book by chance and it features a selfish creep. Usually I get that more in science fiction or mystery than romance, but I try to avoid it all the same.

    1. Sirius

      Hi Reggie – oh no no my TBR is still pretty long with older books what I meant is that I was bored with reviewing blurbs for several weeks In a row and did not request new books and cleared my reviewing backlog and books I purchased on my own also were not fun enough for me to review :). I have a couple now.

    2. Sirius

      Any time Val – I know what you mean. Romance or no romance – I don’t care – but I really want to have a likeable character in the book – he can have serious flaws but then I want to see the journey of growth and change and personally I saw nothing like that in this book. It is like cop out endi g justified Riley’s behaviour IMO.

  3. Reggie

    Thanks Sirius!

    No MM in your TBR list? Oh noes!! No wonder you were led astray! :eek:

    There are some new free bees for free at Amazon you could check out- :grin:

  4. jeayci

    I agree with Val about the importance of appealing characters. I’ll forgive one heckuva lot if I care about the characters. I can even appreciate characters with major flaws who, as you said, we then see grow and change. But there’s very little that’ll keep me reading if I actively dislike them. Sorry you had to deal with that! :sad:

    1. Sirius

      Nof only the twit does not grow and change but as far as I concerned the ending plot twist basically completely justifies his behavior. It was quite frustrating indeed especially because the book had such potential.

  5. Mal Peters

    It’s interesting that you disliked Riley so much. I definitely wanted to slap him a few times for being so feckless, but otherwise I didn’t dislike him at all. I read his treatment of Nick as a sort of gut feeling he’d had since the start of their relationship, which turned out to be justifiable repulsion. I suppose I was more frustrated with him for being blind to the option of ending the relationship since it obviously wasn’t working for either of them.

    At a technical level, I think the problem is that the author failed to drop enough hints about Nick’s secret activities throughout the text, or Riley’s gut feelings about him were not explicit enough – he did nothing more than beat himself up for his treatment of Nick, while a very simple explanation of “I don’t trust him for some reason” would have gone a long way to justify why he hid so much and ultimately cheated (again). My biggest caveat was that the “big twist” came too much out of the blue, and was too convenient, as you said. Perhaps a second reading would reveal where hints were dropped in the text leading up to that, but my instinct tells me they simply weren’t there.

    1. Sirius

      Hi Mal, I think you bring up a very interesting point that got me thinking. Yep, I can totally see myself wondering whom I should sympathise with if we could have seen a hint of Riley’s not trusting Nick throughout the book. I suppose your point lowers my opinion about this book being well written too, because that indeed relates to technical side of the writing. I mean, what I took from Riley and Nick’s relationship was this – Riley was a lying, cheating ass to him througout the book, did not have a strength to break up with him except telling himself those self endulging things and then BOOM out of the blue that revelation. Who knows if it was properly foreshadowed, maybe my interpretation would have ended up being closer to yours.

      Thank you! I love and appreciate everybody who comments on my reviews just to let me know that they read and enjoyed it very much, but I enjoy comments’ like yours the best :)

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