Murals, The

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

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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