Book Review – Murder in Paint
by Rodney Strong
Average rating (all reviews) :
3 Blogger Reviews
| Joni Dee
BookGobbler Top Reviewer
| Dianne James
Blogger & Reader
Thoroughly Enjoyable Art-Elemented Thriller!
Murder in Paint is the second novel by Rodney Strong, who’s a Wellington, NZ based author. I’ve read Rodney’s debut “Troy’s Possibilities” which was an unorthodox fiction novel, and stood first in line to read “Murder in Paint”, which is Strong’s attempt of a thriller. I was not disappointed.
As a thriller author myself I always enjoy exploring other sub-genres, with an extra attraction to either political or art, the latter being a rare find. I’ve approached this novel cautiously, as like Strong’s previous novel, there is a dominant element of supernatural, and I’m not normally into such things. In this case, the anti-hero protagonist, Oliver Atkinson, reluctantly “picks up” a “hitchhiker” in the cemetery – a spirit called Violet Tumbleton – who becomes a constant presence in his head. It kind of reminded me of “Defender” by G X Todd, which is a rather unknown newish novel about an apocalyptic world where people get the “gift” of self-aware beings, voices, stuck in their heads.
Urged by the long dead Violet to find the con-woman who “stole” her name, Oliver, is sucked into a whirlpool of art-theft and a murder investigation. Fake Violet, aka Amanda, cons and steals for a living, but after a painting she sold had gone missing, and the art dealer found dead, she is picked up by the police. She then names Oliver, who she randomly met, as her partner. Oliver, who’s a stay-at-home-dad that quit his 9-5 job in pursuit of a career as an author (probably loosely based on Mr Strong, who has done the same) is anything but the cunning partner you’d want on a task like this. With the police breathing done his neck, a hired-thug called Victor who believes Oliver knows where the painting is, Amanda’s shenanigans and Violet in his head, Oliver is forced to take control of his life again.
Let me just start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. The supernatural element has completely slipped off my mind, and the interaction between Oliver and Violet seemed so natural that I nearly forgot to mention she’s a spirit of a long-dead woman in my review! Oliver is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and his suburban life is thrown into a mess, which he doesn’t know how to approach, left alone solve. His reliance on a con-artist is both believable and aggravating, I really wanted to shout to the pages “snap out of it mate!”, but it’s also part of his charm. A character I could very well identify with, as it seems like my life has the same kids-induced mess, as his.
Strong’s writing is accurate, without being rigid, the book flows, and I found myself waiting for my work commutes, in order to get on with it. The art plot, as the main drive behind the mystery was great, and Strong has done such a great job making it plausible, that I actually opened Google to search for the artists he mentions, disappointed to find they weren’t real.
All in all a great thriller, I really liked it, 4.5 stars is the proper score. Looking forward to the next one, in what appears to be the start of a series.
An unexpected Hitchhiker Leads to a Murder
I read Rodney Strong’s debut novel, Troy’s Possibilities, last year and absolutely loved it! Now Strong is back with his new novel Murder in Paint. I’m a murder mystery gal at heart and I jumped at the chance to read it and see how Strong moved into a new genre.
Oliver is an aspiring writing. He spends his days researching and typing out his new, take-the-world-by-storm novel. Just kidding. . . He spends most of his time doing laundry, cleaning up after his two kids, and making sure he gets them to their various activities somewhat on time. And there’s no time for writing his book.
Oliver has been floating through life as a stay at home husband/dad. But circumstances take an unexpected turn when he picks up a hitchhiker at the cemetery.
Violet Tumbleton has been dead for a long time, but she has now returned. Someone has stolen Violet’s name and she wants it back. There’s only one problem, she’s a voice inside Oliver’s head.
Oliver and Violet team up to find who the fake Violet is. But in their discovery, they become entangled with an art thief, a murder, and there’s still more danger coming.
One of the things I love about Strong’s main characters is that they are so raw. Oliver is absolutely believable and relatable. Everything he does and thinks is what a real person would do. His life isn’t perfect, actually it’s complete chaos with two little cyclones running around. He’s the charming, stay-at-home-husband next door.
I have two elements I do want to address: the murder itself and Oliver’s wife Jennifer. The murder does not take a main role in the story until much later. I honestly forgot there was a murder in the story for a while. Jennifer’s reaction to the whole situation is unbelievable to me. There is a murder on the loose, her family (including two children) is being threatened, and the reaction is very underplayed.
The story itself is quite similar to the Stephanie Plum series: there’s action, bad guys, and enough humor that will keep you chuckling for the rest of the afternoon. It’s a great beach read or a ‘sunny afternoon’ read. And the ending had me bursting out laughing! I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store!
Murder in Paint by Rodney Strong receives 3.5 stars.
The reviewer is a book blogger, originally posted on Britanny’s Pages
What a delightfully entertaining book!
Oliver Atkinson has given up his job to write a book, whilst also taking on the role of house husband. His life appears to be full, looking after his two young children and doing the daily chores, but not enough writing is getting done.
I loved, loved, loved this book even though the supernatural aspect would normally not be my thing. The plot was tangled enough to keep me well interested and the characters wonderfully developed and diverse.
Strong has an easy writing style filled with humour and occasional irreverence, which made me…an Antipodean…feel right at home.
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