Title: Art of Death
Author: Ana Bosch
Cover artist: Shobana Appavu
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.
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.
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.