In Kate Wilhelm’s latest crime novel, a small Oregon town is rocked by a wheels-within-wheels case of art, fraud, and murder.
Silver Bay, Oregon, a small coastal resort town of under a thousand residents, is home to three generations of women: Marnie, the long-widowed owner of a small gift shop; Van, her granddaughter, who is about to graduate from medical school; and Stef, mercurial and difficult, a brilliant artist who refuses to sell her work. When Stef discovers that Dale Oliver - the latest husband/paramour in a very long line - is trying to sell her work behind her back, she puts a stop to it and threatens to do the same to him. Shortly thereafter, Stef dies in an accident in her studio, and Dale shows up with a signed contract granting him the right to sell her work. Convinced that Stef was murdered to steal her artwork, Marnie and Van, grandmother and granddaughter, decide to do whatever is necessary to see that Dale doesn’t get away with any of it. This includes enlisting the help of the new stranger in town, Tony, a former New York City cop who might be the only one who can prove it was murder and bring the killer to justice.
Although this story takes place in Oregon, it is not part of the Barbara Holloway series. In this novel, three generations of a family live in a coastal town. Marnie, a widow, has a shop where she sells art and crafts made by artisans in the local area. Her daughter, Stef, is a mercurial and artistic genius whose art is just becoming known. Stef’s daughter, Van, is in medical school and is just turning 30, and Van has a son, Josh, in kindergarten. These four generations all live together in a house which has been divided into two houses for the two families. Stef has had three husbands before her current one. Marnie and Van and Josh greatly dislike her current husband, and when Stef finds out that he is trying to sell her work behind her back, she puts a stop to it and plans revenge against her husband. But, before she can wreak this revenge, she falls downstairs and dies. Her husband then shows up with a signed contract saying that he now owns all of her art. Marnie and Van are convinced that Stef was murdered, and they convince a newcomer to town, a mysterious man who was a detective in New York City until he retired due to disability-he was shot-to help them. With his detective skills and their unflagging commitment to find and kill Stef’s husband if they can’t get him convicted for murder, they start the process of building a case against the guy. The interesting thing in this book is that all three of the adults have to face the fact that they hate this man so much that they would kill him if the law doesn’t put him away. Each of them has to deal with this hatred in their own way. MacDuffie is a perfect narrator for this book. She does all of the various voices very well. I was especially impressed with her voice for Josh, the kindergartener.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about Death of an Artist?
I feel like the plots are forced, the characters not very deep ane predictable, and the quality of the writing is somewhat pedestrian. I have enjoyed Kate Wilhelm books for many years, but they start sounding redundant (everyone constantly drinks coffee...) and I think I've had it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This was a disappointment - plot was weak and not well developed, characters felt like caricatures, poorly done all around. The narration was good enough but the narrator didn't have much with which to work.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Death of an Artist?
The setting and descriptive wording.
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
I identified with characters.
Have you listened to any of Carrington MacDuffie’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The retired cop, Toni, aging and full of regret is someone I identify with.
Any additional comments?
Strong female characters.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful