Cover Image: The Art of Death

The Art of Death

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Member Reviews

Was excited to be reading this book. Liked the idea of a murdering artist, flawed DI and Belfast sergeant sidekick.
Was left disappointed- it was obvious who the murderer was from early on.
DI Grace Archer is a cop with a past - several pasts and you would think her experiences would give her insights into who is the murderer but she stumbles from one disaster to the next.
Her family /past  are the most interesting parts of the book.
Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in return for a fair review.
3 Stars ⭐️
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A good debut for an exciting, gritty and gripping story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Good character and plot development, a fast paced plot full of twists and turns.
I can't wait to read another book in this series.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I did enjoy this  book.  I found the plot interesting and the story compelling.  I do have a problem nowadays with the main detective character, man or woman - in this case DI Grace Archer - having a lot of baggage.  Troubled past, alienating work colleagues and family issues plus the boyfriend.   I find this does  not enhance the story but simply intrudes.  In this case there is just too much and for me it gets in the way of what is otherwise a very good and enjoyable book to read.
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Grace Archer is a police woman with a troubled past!  Here is her chance for a new start at a new station but she has already alienated her team members so her latest triple murder enquiry is not going to be easy!  Thankfully she has a sympathetic partner in Harry Quinn but the going gets more and more gruesome!  The pace is fast moving and the characters leap off the page although Hicks reminds me of a ‘Line of Duty’ character!  The story kept me riveted to the end with some good twists and turns!  A good read,
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This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and found myself second guessing every thought I had continuously.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my own honest voluntary review.
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Loved this one! So easy to read and lots of twists and turns along the way. Definitely a quick read and one I recommend.
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This book revolves around the actions of a gruesome serial killer, terrorising London with his macabre “art” installations, featuring dead bodies floating in clear containers.  DI Grace Archer is tasked with catching him and we follow her as she navigates an occasionally hostile working environment and a myriad of personal problems.

I picked this up because it sounded amazing.  I have a thing for serial killers (please note, this is a wholesome, purely academic thing – I’m not one of THOSE women) and everything in the blurb appealed to me.  The idea is brilliant – a killer who is blatant, very twisted, dark and gruesome.  Excellent.

However, the author doesn’t quite pull it off.

Firstly, our heroine has a little bit too much going on in her life.  Not only is there the cliched tragic backstory (alluded to repeatedly, in enough detail to make you think it’s going somewhere, and then … no), there’s a whole family arc she has to contend with and then there’s the boyfriend.  No doubt everything is designed to give us some insight in to our new heroine; however, it’s distracting and too much, in not enough detail, served up in one go.

Secondly, and perhaps I’m being unfair here, but the author seems to have had a tick-list of specific character attributes he wanted to include.  We have the female lead, an Irishman, a closet homosexual, an alcoholic, a couple of Indians, someone who may or may not have been Turkish/Syrian, a transgendered analyst … I am all for inclusion (and frankly, literature does need more of this), but I don’t think everyone needs to be included in one book.  If you reach a point where you’re looking for the one-armed Jamaican lesbian, it’s safe to say it’s been taken too far.  Ultimately, it felt hammy rather than inclusive.

Then we have the writing itself.  Now, I confess I’m not a huge fan of the third person narrative, but it can work exceptionally well in some cases.  This is not one of those cases.  The writing is so simplistic as to feel really immature in places.  For example, (not an actual excerpt FYI, but you get the idea): She told him that they had found a print.  He said OK, that was good. She said she knew.  They sat in silence for a moment. She leant forward, he said what are you doing?  She sighed. She replied after a moment’s thought.

We have dialogue for a reason – and not everything needs to be included.  The benefit of third person is the ability to get inside multiple character’s heads, but the author chose not to go down this route.  That’s fine, do what works for you, but it meant this was a really disjointed and awkward book to read.  As a result, I really struggled to feel any connection with any of the characters and found the storyline to be quite choppy in places.

Then we have the incompetence of the police force, who seem to think that a scrap of trace evidence (i.e. a hair, fibre or partial print) is categorical proof that someone committed the murder.  It makes for a lot of rushing off at speed to arrest people who have no idea what’s going on.

I get it, you need a few false starts and red herrings to keep things interesting, but this did not work.  It was obvious almost immediately who the killer was – though I am still sketchy on the motives (yet do not remotely care).  It was just really boring and lazy plotting from the author and insulting to readers to throw pathetic alternate suspects in to the mix.  Just no. We get your first suspect isn't going to be the murderer - the book's 423 pages!  

Finally, this book is in need of a ruddy good edit.  Whoever did a first pass at it you should really be ashamed of yourself.  There are times where active dialogue is taking place between two individuals, but it is so poorly edited you can’t tell who is speaking (each speaker does not always get a new line, and sometimes they do, when they shouldn’t!).  I lost count the amount of times I had to go back and re-read something to try and understand it.

So, no, it’s not the worst book I’ve read in this genre and it could have a lot of promise if it had a good editorial overhaul (too late for that, I guess) but I won’t be reading anything else if this turns out to be a series.  The police are too ridiculous, I’d be amazed if they could catch a cold!
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Good serial killer novel which is gripping and quite fast paced, odd little plot but I liked it 😊 a solid police procedure book, and had me hooked for sure, I hope to see more from the author hopefully including the same characters in this one as I enjoyed the banter and the two of them together, they made a good team, would have liked to know more about the killer but maybe that will come up in another book?! A really good read thank you
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An excellent book with an unusual tale.  A serial killer who regards his work as art.  I really enjoyed the story and will look forward to reading more from this author.
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What a great read!
I do love myself a great serial killer read and I must say @nonymous is up there with the best. What a twisted individual and all in the name of art! And to think you do get sick people like that out there! 

My only negative criticism is that I wanted to know more about @nonymous. I want to know why he is so twisted. What happened to him because he surely wasn't born bad but maybe we will see a follow up where we will get to know him better. Am I seeing an escape from the hospital with the help of one female doctor? *rub hands together* 

I can highly recommend this read. Get ready to meet "The Forsaken", " The Marshland Martyrs" and "The Father, Son and Ghost" But do you really want to meet The Ghost....... 

Thank you to NetGalley and Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion
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3.5*

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. It's a solid police procedural / crime thriller and there was lots to like about it. DI Grace Archer is a very likeable character, with an extremely interesting backstory. (I hope that in future books we get to learn a little bit more about what she went through as a child). I also liked that the serial killer and the murders he committed veered towards the dark and ever so slightly gruesome side. I especially enjoyed the chapters told from the victims point of view, and those of the killer, as I found it extremely interesting to read about how the killer lured his victims in and how excited they were for their first "dates".

On the slightly negative side, I figured out the "twist" very early on in the story and I guessed who the killer was, so when I was proven right that was a little bit of a let down. Another slight negative for me was that I really would have liked to experience more from the actual killer himself. Okay, I know, this is a book primarily about DI Archer but the parts of the story that really gripped me were the actual murders, the chapters about the victims, the behaviour of the killer, what the victims went through (although this isn't really touched on much) and the scenes where the victims "met" their killer. I do tend to sometimes find police procedurals a little dull and repetitive at times and so more focus on the killer and the victims is always good for me.

Overall, a really enjoyable read. If you love the cat-and-mouse chase of police procedurals and you can handle a slightly gruesome serial killer, then I definitely recommend that you give this one a try.
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This has easily got to be one of my favourite reads of the year so far!

If you love a good serial killer read then this is the one for you. The action starts at the very beginning and has you gripped the whole way through. I was literally hooked from the prologue. 

A police procedural thriller, headed up by DI Grace Archer and her partner DC Harry Quinn and quite an entertaining and formidable team they make. 
I really liked Grace, shes a strong character with a believable background that is slowly revealed throughout the story but most of all she felt relatable which is a massive bonus in my eyes. I also love the relationship that we get to witness between her and her Grandad who has Dementia, she is having to work all hours on the investigation aswell as trying to care for him.

I'll admit I did guess the 'baddie' bit that didnt take anything away from the storyline or plot at all.

I really enjoyed reading the unique and inventive storyline, I wont give any spoilers but .. art + serial killer + random victims...you'll be on the edge if your seat trying to fathom who, what and why!

The whole thing from beginning to end flowed seamlessly at a fast pace and was extremely well plotted... how the hell is this only David Fennell's debut? I am so looking forward to his next installment. 

On a side note.. the cover is amazing!

This is the easiest 5* I've given in a while.

Huge thanks to netgalley and Bonnier Books for the ARC.
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The main character in this novel is DI Grace Archer, she is a leading investigator in a series of very bizarre and very cruel murders. There is a very wide variety of diverse and intriguing characters in this novel, and this book is told from multiple perspectives, including the victims and the killer as well. DI Archer is a very complex character, her childhood had its horrors, and she is an outsider in her new police station. But I really admired her strength, sharp mind and complexity. This book allows me to delve deeper into the characters, especially the victims, I think all the victims were suffering from one thing or another, and it was interesting to read about their lives.

The narrative of this book always changes, from the investigation it jumps to new abductions, to personal character’s lives. All these things made the book very fast-paced and enjoyable for me. Even though it is a debut novel, I felt like this book is a part of a series because of the way the author incorporated the details from DI Archer’s past. I felt like I missed the investigations that happened in the past. 😀 I found the plot very multi-dimensional, absorbing and creepy. The topics discussed in this book were grief and loss, traumatic experiences, workplace discrimination, many mental health issues, drug use, domestic and other violence and many many more.

The writing style is very easy to read and enjoyable, but at the same time, it felt unusual, different. (I can’t describe how though 😀 ) The author has experience in cybersecurity, and it was interesting to see, how he highlights the mistakes people do in their daily lives when it comes to our social media and online presence. There are a lot of gory murder scenes in this book, so it might not be suitable for sensitive readers. The atmosphere and the setting of the novel constantly change, depending on the perspective, and I really enjoyed it. The chapters are pretty short, and the whole novel was a page-turner for me. I really loved the ending, it left me very intrigued, and I can’t wait for another book. 🙂

So, to conclude, it is a very rich novel, full of layered and diverse characters as well as a plot that is fast-paced and always changing. I really enjoyed this book, it highlights so many various topics and social issues, you just need to find it.
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highly anticipated and talked about books for the new year and one that does not disappoint its reader. A macabre look at what one person may call art that another will call a murderous act is what the plot line delivers. As well as a tense, fraught, fast paced novel the book shines the light on a new female lead character that could be the basis of a series of books. A strong lead character finding her way in a new role whilst juggling the enquiry adds to the books flavour. Whilst I had guessed the culprit half way through I still enjoyed following the book as it joined all the dots to its ultimate reveal. I wanted to see if I had it right or had I been fooled into the wrong conclusion by the author. Either way it was a book I still wanted to finish and I got a sense of satisfaction from my guess and from a book well read.
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What a superb and twisty book, delving into the mind of a street artist and the impact of social media. Features a strong female detective and follows her psychological issues as she struggles with combining a new job with a difficult, horrifying case whilst also trying to care for her elderly and ailing grandfather.  Will look forward to reading more by this author.
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The Art Of Death is an extremely sinister crime thriller where the victims are displayed as works of art around London. Grace Archer is heading the police team who are trying to find the perpetrator but she has more to deal with than just the crime. She is in a new position, in a station where she doesn’t expect to be made welcome after she had to arrest her predecessor. She also has to care for her ailing grandfather, her only family.

She does have her friends in the team though, Quinn who wasn’t one of her predecessor’s biggest fans and Klara, who is more than capable of ignoring snide comments and smirks. 

It was a novel where you got to meet some of the victims rather than their killer. You could see how they were coerced to their deaths and with some of them the horror they experienced when they realised they had been duped.  And with the others, I  felt sadness at knowing that they wouldn’t have their happy evening.

There were a few times early in the book that I felt I had missed an earlier novel, but it was just a different style of writing. Both Grace’s and Quinn’s past are revealed much later in the novel. Most of the novel does focus on Grace but there poignant scenes that featured another victim. I felt quite tense reading these, hoping for a happy ending.

Not as believable as many crime thrillers but very entertaining and I read it very quickly. I hope that this book will become a series, I see huge potential for Grace, Quinn and a hopefully united team.
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The Art of Death is a clever, chilling and visceral thriller that  has a feisty but troubled heroine in Di Archer.  She is assigned to lead a team in a department which she had previously investigated . Despite open hostility from some of the  officers she finds an ally in DS Quinn. Which is fortuitous because the  @nonymous killer  at that moment releases a public  tableaux - 3 dead  homeless people posed in a tank of Formaldehyde. From then on It’s a race against time to catch the killer as evidence shows more victims are in danger of becoming a “work of Art” .

 Before  the conclusion Di Archer must relive and come to terms with  her own traumatic past, not knowing that she has already been selected to be “immortalised”  by the killer.
I very much  enjoyed the  central character and her relationship with her sergeant. 

Archer is by turns empathetic or ruthless  just as the situation requires but she also has  a touching  vulnerability highlighted through her internal  battles against   her demons and  self doubt, making her a well rounded figure that I hope to see more of in the  future.

The story  is extremely well plotted building up to an exciting  and memorable climax, skilfully blending many contemporary issues along the way.

Highly recommended.
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This was a dark, messed up thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed reading! When Detective Inspector Grace Archer is made head of the latest investigation, she was certainly not bargaining on it dragging her tragic, traumatising childhood into the public spotlight. A killer who goes by the name @nonymous is publicly framing his murder victims as art installations around London. When Archer begins investigating it doesn’t take long for the press to find out her real identity as a survivor of a child murderer and to splash her secrets all across the papers. Will Archer face her fears again when confronted with another harrowing murderer or will she let it all get the better of her?

This was an interesting premise for a thriller. I found death imitating art super morbid and creepy but a very strong angle to come at a thriller with. Archer was a fun protagonist to spend time with and I found her second in command Quinn very endearing and a good energy to balance the dynamic. This was written very well and structured competently. I would be very happy if he wrote more thrillers for Archer to take the lead in. She is a very nuanced well layered protagonist with much more to give us and I am hungry for more. If you enjoy thrillers/ police procedurals you should 100% be picking this one up! 

Thanks to the author David Fennell,Bonnier Books UK and Netgalley for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Three glass boxes appear as part of an art project. Its a macabre display but they soon realize its also real. There are dead bodies in the boxes. DI Grace Archer has just been moved to a station where she isnt welcome but can she pull the team together and solve these murders before more boxes appear. 

This was an interesting story and i enjoyed the mystery but it didnt draw me in as much as I'd hoped it would. I figured out who was behind the murders fairly quickly. The plot was a bit slow but did build to a very dramatic ending which I enjoyed. I liked the back story of Grace but couldn't quite like her enough by the end of the story. I did like Quin though and Klara too. A good crime, thriller.
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4 Stars from me

As well as having a cracking cover, The Art of Death is a fabulous debut novel by David Fennell.

I greatly enjoyed meeting DI Grace Archer and her team as they raced - blindly at times - to track down @nonymous.

I had to admire Archer as she joins a team by filling the shoes of a cop that she helped put away... all a bit awkward, especially as her new boss was dating him. Can't say I would have relished that opportunity myself.

I greatly enjoyed the 'art' aspect of the murders and how the killer lured people - a bit of a lesson to us all to think about how much we give away online.

It's always hard meeting a new team at the start of a series (I am presuming this will go on to be a series) but I feel like we know them all now - warts an all - and it will be good to pick them up again in future books.

Archer's relationship with her grandad was a nice touch too.

Overall, very engaging, gripping at times, nicely nutty killer and a great introduction to Archer and her team.
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