Cover Image: The Murals

The Murals

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Member Reviews

Jason Poe breaks into the house on Locust Street to take pictures for a project about abandoned houses. He's not expecting the murals that confront him in a tiny upstairs room. Completely covering all four walls, sinister figures have a powerful impact on the viewer. He made his career photographing the horrors of war, but these figures have an intensity to him that he can't look away from.   Locust street has an awful reputation and he knew about the crimes that took place in two other houses that were demolished long ago, but he didn't know about the "cult house." Now that Jason has seen the paintings, he's determined to find out who created them and why. 

This book wasn't what I was expecting, but the story pulled me in and kept me turning pages. It's told "in the voices of the participants" and has almost a documentary feel to it. (My reaction might also have been influenced by the fact that I'd watched Candyman late the night before I started reading and couldn't stop picturing the murals from that movie.)
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A very different book from what I read to date. I loved the fact that the book chapters are name by people names. What a clever idea! Each chapter completes the book. It is like walking through a labyrinth or completong a puzzle reading this wonderful story. 
I was impressed by the idea of the storyline and how things evolved in each chapter. Great and such a different book! Highly recommended!
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The Murals by William Bayer is a psychological mystery with a twist. It is fiction but it reads like nonfiction because each chapter is narrated by a different character. Jason Poe was a war photographer and is now working on a photo project in Calista which involves entering vacant houses to photograph what tenants have left behind. He plans to use the photographs for a book. He happens upon an abandoned house which has a room where all four walls are painted with astounding murals. The search is then on for the artists responsible for such art. The narrators uncover a suspected satanic cult, several cases of arson, a home for runaway teens, a dysfunctional wealthy family etc. They will travel in the US and Europe to find the elusive answers. I’ll admit that I considered giving up on this novel at the start but I was rewarded for sticking with it: the story proves to be suspenseful, surprising and fresh. This is a book with a difference and it gets under your skin. Thank you to Severn House and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.  
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A fascinating and well written book, atmospheric and gripping.
I loved the style of writing, the multiple POV and the well crafted plot.
It's the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Many thanks to Severn House and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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After reading 10% of this, I have decided to DNF.  It is not working for me. I am confused, I think it is jumping all over the place. There isn’t enough to keep me interested. I usually push through and read ARCs, but the reviews of this are not that positive so I am going to go with my gut feeling and put this aside.
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I almost DNF’ed this after the first few chapters, but then the story behind the titular murals captured my attention. By the time I got to the end, though, I found myself wishing I’d followed my first instinct to bail on this book. 

Some parts of The Murals are exciting, but I really didn’t care for the overall writing style. Presenting the story in the interview/recollections style zapped the overall reading experience of the tension that could have been created by not knowing that all the main characters made it to the end alive and well. 

Content Warning: There are graphic depictions of child sexual abuse that go into much more detail than necessary. Readers don’t need to know every sick thing someone does to a child/young teen in order to understand that it’s absolutely appalling. 

I also didn’t appreciate the author’s take on Asperger’s syndrome. As someone who is on the spectrum, I felt like his description came from stereotypes instead of from any actual research. Not to mention that everything the so-called autistic character went through left her so traumatized that the trauma alone could have easily accounted for everything deemed to be “different” about her. Avoiding eye contact, choosing not to speak much, and not having many friends doesn’t automatically equal autism. 

Oh, and I don’t know any women, myself included, who are thrilled to find out that their period has synced up with a friend’s. We may sometimes laugh (or cringe) about it, but it’s not like a point of pride or a defining characteristic of a friendship.

The ending of the book was a big disappointment too. Yes, some people got their comeuppance, but the overall story fell flat at the end. This was partly due to what happened and partly due to the method the author used to disclose the ending. 

Oh, and if you’re going to include a URL in your novel, at least have enough marketing sense to make the site a marketing tool for your books instead of letting it be non-existent. 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC. This review contains my honest, unbiased opinion.
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Fascinating and tragic at the same time. Couldn’t put it down.

Jason is a traumatised war photographer who is trying to rebuild his life and career after the horrors of war. Together with his assistant, Tally, he seeks out abandoned buildings and takes photographs of anything of interest. During one such expedition, he finds painted murals in a deserted house and so starts his quest to discover who painted them and their story.

Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the book’s characters. As the plot progresses, the number of protagonists increases as does the tension. The locations in the USA move as far as Cleveland in the North to the Florida Keys in the South and also to Switzerland.

The story’s synopsis didn’t really appeal but once started the novel grabs the reader and draws him in. Small fragments of the truth behind the murals are fed on a regular basis such that interest does not pall; in fact, the curiosity heightens.

The novel can be read on several levels. As a mystery being solved by a team of amateurs, it’s an excellent read and one to be recommended. However, it’s also the story of how Jason works through his demons to restart his life. All the characters are very different and have their own motivations for their individual actions. Bayer clearly shows off his talent by making each chapter very individual. There’s also the challenge to try to determine which character actually wrote the book.

I could have done without the last chapter as I dislike fiction parading as fact. It is, after all, a story – an excellent one, but a story nonetheless. Solid 5 stars material even so.

mr zorg

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to read.
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Atmospheric Suspense.....
Jason Poe, a photographer,encounters a disturbing mural scene when breaking into abandoned homes for the sake of his art. Poe becomes obsessed with discovering the secrets that lie behind the mysterious murals. An interesting novel of atmospheric suspense. Good storytelling and character depictions together with an intriguing mystery make for an engaging read.
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While the characters are well written and interesting, the plot is so-so. The mystery is interesting, but often wasn't enough to keep me invested.
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I follow a photographer on instagram who goes into abandoned homes, taking photos of the things left behind. I love it. It's a little like spying - except the people you are spying on are long gone. 

This book is about Jason Poe who does this exact thing. He goes into places, taking photos of things left behind. Jason is used to debris, as he is a war photographer. Now, suffering with PTSD he is at home, working on a book of photographs. 

One night, he enters an abandoned house and find the most intense and moving mural he's ever seen. He is obsessed with finding the artist...and the reason behind the mural. 

This is an interesting story about human beings and art and crime and hope. Excellent storytelling from William Bayer.
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The Murals by William Bayer is a puzzling mystery.

  Photography instructor Jason Poe is immediately obsessed with finding out more information about a series of murals painted on the walls of an empty house. He cannot quite put his finger on why the murals affect him so deeply so he enlists the help of his assistant Tally Vaughan, colleague and sometimes girlfriend Hannah Sachs and newspaper report Joan Nguyen to try to find the artist. The house has a troubled past and they quickly discover the possible identity of the artist(s). But with their questions rebuffed at every turn, Jason and his friends quickly deduce that something was quite amiss with the artists and quite possibly, their time in the house. Will their persistence and amateur sleuthing provide them with the answers they are searching for?

  Written in first person with the chapters alternating between different characters, The Murals is an engrossing mystery. The characters are likable and vibrantly developed. The house is creepy but can they trust the reports of what occurred within the walls? The murals completely captivate anyone who views them and everyone is affected in different ways. Will uncovering the truth about the artists and their reason for painting the murals provide answers for why Jason, Tally, Hannah and Joan are so disturbed by them?  With a few twists and turns, William Bayer provides answers to these questions with a satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed this clever and unique mystery and recommend it to readers of the genre.
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The Murals is like nothing I’ve ever read before. Written in such a different way, yet it works perfectly with the premise of the book. Very enjoyable. Thank you to NetGalley, Severn House and the author for the chance to review.
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A photographer whose current preoccupation - memorializing what people leave behind - stumbles on a mystery when he sneaks into an abandoned house. The murals of the title are brilliant, chilling and unsigned, which sets in motion a mystery whose unraveling will disturb more than the dust - and ghosts - in the tower where two vulnerable girls created a simulation of their inner world. A spine-tingling mystery.
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Urban photographer, Jason Poe, specialises in photographing old and derelict houses. Formerly a war photographer, he still needs the buzz of dangerous places. One night he discovers some murals in the attic of a seemingly derelict house. They are haunting and disturbing. Who painted them and why?

This was a book which swayed between the unusual and mundane. The concept of the murals and why they were painted was unusual. However, some of the story then lead to a rant on chemical pollution. I didn’t feel that this totally fitted with the rest of the book. There is also one point at which it seems as if the story will be all wrapped up neatly but thankfully the author shied away from this at the last minute.

The writing was of a good average standard. The characters had some dimension and the story moved along at a good pace thus keeping my interest.

I felt that this book had great potential to really stand out but it just never quite managed this. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good enough book but I felt that it could have been better than this.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
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Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers, Severn House, for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 
William Bayer was a new author to me and I was drawn to the synopsis- a set of murals are found in an empty abandoned house by a former war photographer; who painted them? When and why? They are disturbing but brilliant. I was intrigued by this lead in to what is a psychological mystery/thriller where you the reader take the investigative journey along with the main characters who asked the questions and solved the mystery.
Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view- the war photographer Jason/his partner Hannah/ a journalist Joan and Jason’s right hand man and photography student, Tally. There are a few other characters who pop in and out, giving their take on the proceedings as well. This might sound confusing, but William Bayer makes it work well and the overlap of knowledge and characters’ relationships are held firmly in a web, which works. 
There is the historic crime/mystery of which the dark Murals are a starting point and there is the present day corruption and arson attacks in Calista – which at first appear unrelated, but then as the story unfolds, there is of course overlap.
The story of the lost forgotten creator of the Murals is gradually revealed:- and it is a tragic tale, of abuse, violence, neglect and the triumph of artistic integrity over everything. 
The novel is presented very much as this is fact and is reported as real events told by a journalist and this may not be every reader’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it. On the negative side though I think it  reduces the emotional impact you feel for the characters.
This is a smartly plotted, clever mystery which has all the parts clocked and tagged and is completed satisfactorily. A jigsaw puzzle of a novel.
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After starting this and reading other negative reviews, I’ve decided to skip this one and move on to other books that appeal to me more.
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Jason Poe is a ‘retired’ photojournalist inasmuch as he no longer frequents war zones to capture ‘the’ picture.  No, now his excitement is limited to collecting material for his series ‘Leavings’ whereby he enters derelict and abandoned buildings to photograph the abandoned possessions of the last inhabitants with a view to a book and an exhibition.  On one such foray he discovers a series of murals in the attack space of an abandoned house in Calista, and so begins the search for the artist/s responsible for these moving murals and attempt to discover the motivation behind them.  To do this he gathers together a small team.

Sounds pretty tame but in reality this was an unusual. great story with strong themes, dysfunctional families; good versus bad; corruption in high places and our intrepid team providing the required answers.

Thank you to the author, publishers and NetGalley for providing an ARC via my Kindle in return for an honest review.
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The Murals is a unique and fantastic book. The book is well written and the characters are well developed. The ending is not typical.
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5 stars

Jason Poe used to travel to the most horrific places in the world – war zones. He took evocative pictures of the people he saw and met there. He has always been fascinated by people, especially their eyes. 

After a particularly awful experience, he no longer goes to film wars and the people. Instead, he works on his own projects while not at his teaching job at a local art institute. Right now he is taking photos of the things people leave behind when they abandon their homes. He is going to call his book, “Leavings.” 

At night Jason and his friend Tally, go into abandoned houses - minus the owner's permission. One night Jason goes into a particularly interesting old house on Locust Street. This is one of the most blighted areas in the town of Calista. There he sees and photographs some of the most moving murals he has ever seen. He must find out who did them and why. 

So begins a particularly engrossing and interesting tale complete with crooked cops, shady lawyers, obsessed relatives, a damaged artist and a very likable group of people who are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of “Who?” and “Why?” The murals speak to all of them. They speak to everyone who sees them. 

The group of four people who are looking for the artist are so engaging and interesting that the reader is rooting heavily for them all the way.  I liked them all and admired their individual talents. Some of the bad guys had a moral compass that was a bit off, while others were downright evil and sick. I can't say too much more without handing out spoilers. The book is very well written and plotted. One event follows another in a logical manner. I really liked it and hope to read more of Mr. Bayer's work.  

I want to thank NetGalley and Severn House/Severn House Publishers for forwarding to me a copy of this very good book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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THE MURALS is an engrossing commentary on Life and Art and how sometimes horrible abuse and tragedy may create majestic art. The novel also offers, not traditional happy endings, but several examples of the ultimate triumph of hope and the human spirit. The perfect life may be inaccessible; but an individual can find joy in passion and purpose. Several strong female characters (and some strong males too) populate THE MURALS, and we also witness character evolution as well.
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