Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on The Art Of Death by David Fennell as part of the blog tour. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the tour invite and to publishers Zaffre for the advance review copy. here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Death is an art, and he is the master . . .
Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.
The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.
Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.
As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are live-streamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .
He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.
The Art of Death is a clever and twisted serial killer thriller which, for me, sits somewhere between Detective fiction and an episode of Dexter (more the TV show rather than the books). Now I mention Dexter because the book has echoes of the showmanship of the killer, the way in which they present the bodies to the public, rather than you taking anything from this about the nature of either the lead Detective or the antagonist. It was more the vibe, the intent of the killer to depict their murders as, just as the title suggests, a work of art.
Nothing in this book is especially gruesome in the way it is depicted, although the very nature of what the killer does is, in itself, pretty unsettling. In the main, the violence is left off the page, that which is portrayed done so in a less than graphic way, but with enough detail to leave readers in no doubt about what has, and is about to, occur. The story is not about the act of murder as much as the way in which the killer is choosing their victims and the motivations for what they are doing. Rather than dispose of their victims, they are left in plain sight, something which has adds a sense of urgency to the investigation.
The story is told predominantly from two points of view – that of the investigative team , more specifically newly appointed Detective Inspector Grace Archer, and of the killer, the self titled @nonymous. Grace Archer has a dark past of her own, something which gives her a kind of empathy for the victims and also appears to be a minor impediment in terms of her reaction to the crime scenes. The killer – well, they are twisted and yet fully logical and methodical in their approach. David Fennell has done a good job in depicting a character who is clearly dark of heart and mind, and yet fully able to justify to themselves, and therefore to readers, how rational their decisions and their actions are. It’s a difficult balance when creating a character who is clearly quite disturbed, and yet the author keeps things just tight enough to make them believable.
As readers we are treated to the perspective of some of the victims too, their lives, their thoughts and the reasons why they find themselves the target of a serial killer. Their points of view are carefully crafted, and it makes it easy to see how many of them fell prey to the killer, but also creates those moments of frustration where I knew the inevitable will happen and you wonder just how dumb someone could still be in this day and age. It was still credible, just, but I did wonder whether this is just highlighting the need for a real push in internet safety for adults. Kids are way more switched on than we are it seems.
If you are a fan of serial killer novels then I think you will get a real buzz out of this dark thriller. It is not overly gratuitous but it is inventive, and the characters are compelling and intriguing enough to hold your attention right to the end. I’m an curious to see what comes next from the author and how, and if, he can top the creativity of his first antagonist. With a story that is infused with tension, and a pace that is pitched just right to draw readers on to the jeopardy laden showdown that will have you on the edge of the seat, this is sure to be a popular pick for crime lovers everywhere.
About the Author
David Fennell was born and raised in Belfast before leaving for London at the age of eighteen with £50 in one pocket and a dog-eared copy of Stephen King’s The Stand in the other. He jobbed as a chef, waiter and bartender for several years before starting a career in writing for the software industry. He has been working in CyberSecurity for fourteen years and is a fierce advocate for information privacy. David has played rugby for Brighton and has studied Creative Writing at the University of Sussex. He is married and he and his partner split their time between Central London and Brighton.
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