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The Death Artist (Kate McKinnon #1)

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  386 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review

Wedging himself stylistically between the gritty works of Michael Connelly and the high-octane plots of James Patterson, noted New York painter Jonathan Santlofer expands his palette to include the written word and cunningly crafts an absorbing portrait of obsession with The Death Artist, his debut thriller.

Former New York cop Kate McKinnon liv

Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by HarperTorch (first published 2002)
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Jan 01, 2013 Tanya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't completely buy into this story. The main character was unbelievable. An unlikely combination of working class cop/high society art historian socialite. The story ran a bit long for me. There was a lot of talk of race and distinctions based on race that felt a bit pointless to me. Maybe the author, who is very familiar with the art world, was trying to paint a realistic picture of the art world and the different subgroups of artists that exist. I don't know but I just felt race seemed ...more
Lauren E. Mitchell
Mar 06, 2015 Lauren E. Mitchell rated it did not like it
When I picked this up I thought it would possibly be a bit trashy but entertaining. I was wrong. It was totally trashy and not entertaining.

The brand name dropping was reminiscent of someone trying to pretend they got what Bret Easton Ellis was doing with that in American Psycho. For a book that was clearly pushing the 'smoking is evil and gives you cancer' angle, maybe the author shouldn't have mentioned Marlboro like he was getting a blowjob for each mention.

I finally pitched this waste of pa
Artist Jonathan Santlofer’s debut novel of suspense, takes the reader into the New York art scene. Ex-cop turned philanthropist, Kate McKinnon, is drawn back into the sleuthing world when a series of ritualistic murders are occurring to the people around her. The victims are gruesomely arranged to look like famous works of art. Suspecting everyone around her, Kate must uncover the identity of the killer before he/she strikes again.

Oh, how I do love my serial killer novels. Full of vivid descrip
May 07, 2015 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: WPL Tues Book Club
Shelves: fiction
Another premise with super possibilities and poor execution.

I will admit that the first thing that turned me off was not the gruesomeness of the murders but the fact that this book was clearly written in the 1990s, and takes place then, with no set-up that it is a "period piece." I kept going back to check the copyright date (2002) to try and figure out if I was missing something. It's full of VCRs and people saying things like "we could check the Internet..."

I made it to page 120 before my co
Πάνος Τουρλής
Άνατριχιαστικό και γεμάτο σασπένς. Ένα κλασικό θριλεράκι του πρωτοεμφανιζόμενου Santlofer που δεν έχει να προσφέρει κάτι ξεχωριστό από τα υπόλοιπα του είδους εκτός από την πρωτότυπη ιδέα: θύματα-αναπαραστάσεις πινάκων ζωγραφικής! Έχει σασπένς, έχει υπόπτους, έχει κόντρα στο χρόνο, έχει παιχνίδι γάτας-ποντικού, έχει serial killer, σου σπάει τα νεύρα όταν όλοοι οι ύποπτοι εξοντώνονται αλλά προσωπικά δεν κόλλησα εκεί. Είναι αξιοπρεπές, είναι καλοστημένο, έχει ζωντανούς διαλόγους και ναι θα το ήθελα ...more
Jan 16, 2014 Jose rated it it was amazing
Firstly I NEVER write reviews, every opinion varies and majority of the time is never helpful. But this book was that good that I had to. This was a very articulate book, and eloquently written. One of the greatest books I've read in sometime. In the beginning it takes some time to build the plot and characters, but once the story gets rolling you'll burn through pages like wild fire. Addicting story line with so many twists the anxiety to figure the story out was overwhelming! Great read, not f ...more
Oct 22, 2010 iubookgirl rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
The Death Artist is the first in a series of three books featuring Kate McKinnon, former police officer turned art world darling. After marrying, Kate left the force to return to her first love, art history. Now a well-known figure in the New York art scene, Kate finds herself sucked back into the police world when an art-related pattern emerges in a series of murders that seemed to be aimed at Kate. It takes her vast knowledge of art to reveal the pattern and find the truth behind the murders b ...more
Dec 22, 2007 Writerlibrarian rated it really liked it
First novel from artist turned author Jonathan Santlofer. I had read his third novels in this series and went back to the beginning. His heroine, former detective Kate McKinnon is now a New York socialite, an art historian with a wealthy husband, a PBS tv show, a book, a foundation to help young people with talent make it out of poverty. Santlofer knows the New York art scene and it shows. You breather, hear and can almost touch the atmosphere in the galleries, the museum and the oh so particul ...more
Òphiere editoriale
"Mary Sue" e gonnella

Si fa leggere ma è brutto. Brutto il personaggio protagonista, ancora una volta una "Mary Sue": ricca, bellissima, esperta d'arte, regina della vita mondana newyorkese, bravissima nella guida veloce, imbattibile nel tiro, ex superpoliziotta... Simpatica come un calcio nei coglioni dato forte.
Il tutto annacquato da riflessioni e menate femminee.
Cosa rimane? L'idea di accostare dipinti aritistici e scene del crimine. Un mix che funziona sempre.
Stephanie Graham Pina
Jan 28, 2016 Stephanie Graham Pina rated it it was ok
I usually enjoy seeing elements of the art world in fiction, so I wanted to love this book. However, the main character (former cop turned art historian) lacked believability. Class issues were addressed repeatedly throughout the novel yet they seemed forced and contrived. Frankly, I eventually stopped caring who the murderer was and if they would catch him.
Jul 31, 2015 Marie rated it it was ok
Too bad: good start, great idea, poor execution. In fact, it seemed to get increasingly ridiculous as the story progressed. As if the author was transforming into a mystery-writing word-processor app. A reverse Pinnocchio story unfolding behind the scenes.
Linda  Branham Greenwell
I had a difficult time getting started in this book - but once I hit a certain place I was riveted.
I'm mot a real visual person - feeling is my strongest sense - then visual... so some of the scenes described were not as clear as the suthor probably meant them to be
Anyway, the story is about Kate McKinnon, a retired policewoman, turned artist philanthropist. A serial murderer begins killing people and posing them in ways depicted in the paintings of artists. He knows Kate and is sending her info
Annette Prall
Nov 09, 2015 Annette Prall rated it liked it
It was suspenseful but very gory. Read it if you're looking for a fun story but not necessarily the best quality writing.
Eleanor Thompson
Jul 01, 2015 Eleanor Thompson rated it did not like it
I found the premise of the book interesting and I am a sucker for serial killer novels but the main character was so unlikeable and the plot so filled with holes that I would not recommend this book to anyone.
Jun 15, 2011 Junofive rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all-time favorite books.
Without realizing it, I had started reading this in the middle of my second art history course. I was delighted to find so much of said topic all over this book. I have to say, though, that I might not have enjoyed this so much if I'd not just covered the art in question; there are details and nuances that would probably have escaped my notice, or I would have had to research each piece.
If you're in to murder mysteries with more than DNA tests, I would
Jan 11, 2016 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was sure I knew who the killer was, but I was wrong! Good job, Santlofer.
Apr 16, 2012 Gülşah rated it really liked it
Shelves: action, bloody, murder
Cinayet,polisiye,gerilim romanları arasında gerçekten severek okunabilecek sıkmayacak ve sürükleyici bir anlatıma sahip olan güzel kitaplardan bir tanesi. Adından anlaşılacağı üzere sanat ve ölüm içiçe işlenmiş bu kitapta.Birbiri ardına işlenen kanlı cinayetler ünlü ressamların ölümü anlatan kanlı tablolarından kopyalanarak işleniyor, resim etten kemikten kandan bir gerçekliğe kavuşuyor ve cinayet sahnesinde bir sonraki resme/ cinayete ilişkin ipuçları bulunuyor. Çokoş!
Jan 27, 2016 Motunrayo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-crime, favorites
This is my first time of reading an art crime. I love this story. The author did a good job of involving art in a crime which is very rare. He also kept his reader well informed about art and painting. I knew so little about foreign arts and paintings, he did a great job unlike other medical-crime writer. I love the whole setting, the characters and all. The suspense was much though the begining was a little-bit slow. He's a good writer. I love it!
Jan 16, 2013 Ed rated it liked it
#1 in the Kate McKinnon series. I'll give the series another chance, but this entry was unsatisfying.

Kate McKinnon is a New York cop turned art historian tracking down a serial killer who mutilates his victims to make them look like famous paintings. While many in the ostentatiously elegant cast of self-serving artists, curators, patrons and patronesses hide ugly secrets, only one takes the idea of the tortured artist to the extreme.
Jul 23, 2012 Earl rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008
The Death Artist by Jonathan Santlofer. I stumbled across the titles of his other books and I realized they were part of a series so I picked this one up. Setting it in the art world is what differentiates it from other run-of-the-mill crime mysteries. Although a bit formulaic and kind of too procedural for my taste, I'll probably check out another book in the series. [It's 2012 now, and I still haven't read any other books in the series!]
Sarah Sammis
Jul 19, 2012 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: released, pc, read-in-2006
I enjoyed this book thoroughly for its art history angle. I wish the book came with an index of character names so I could go back and reread various scenes of specific characters. The book has the same sort of puzzle/mystery as The Da Vinci Code but the characters seem more well rounded. As the author is a professional artist he was probably drawing from real life experiences for the dialogue.
Jun 24, 2008 Jenneffer rated it liked it
The story was interesting, but the writing wasn't anything to sneeze at. The murderer is an artist and lover of art, who replicates death scenes to mirror famous paintings. It has a lot of references to finery and snobbery, which was a turn-off. However, if you just want a basic mystery plot that is art related, this one is a decent choice.
Apr 22, 2008 Diane rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who like gore
A disturbing mystery set in the art world of New York City. I generally prefer genre mysteries in which I learn something about a subject.

I didn't learn a lot reading this book and the lengthy, detailed descriptions of the murders made it difficult to read.

It was well-written so I will give this author one more try.
Blake Ruehrwein
Aug 23, 2008 Blake Ruehrwein rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people that like graphic murder/thriller novels
“Art in the service of murder and the solving thereof. Paintings of posed bodies (by the artist/writer) left as clues, predictive clues. Interesting enough to propel the reader on to the end but not a keeper.”

tishiejean wrote this review Wednesday, February 27 2008.
Apr 11, 2013 Syntax787 rated it liked it
slow start, good middle, disapointing ending. i expected more action and mind benders for the ending since the pace of the story was steady. i felt the ending was rushed. a good read though, i did learn a lot about art, which is always facinating.
Mary Newcomb
Death scenes replicating famous paintings start to appear in New York. This leads Kate Mc Kinnon, former cop and now famous art historian and socialite to "assist" the police. This was a hard book to put down despite the gore.

May 31, 2012 Kristin marked it as cantfinish
I heard this author speak on a Moth podcast. If he writes as well as he orally tells a story, this will be awesome.

Started it and it was horrible. He doesn't even come close to writing as well as he tells a story. Bummer.
Feb 22, 2011 RUSA CODES rated it it was amazing
This is a Read-Alike title for The Garden of Evil, the Reading List winner in the Mystery category for 2009. For the complete list, go to
May 16, 2009 Sherry rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: mystery readers
A friend gave me this book. Although. I didn't think I was in the mood for a serial killer story, I started it, and stayed with it. I'm compelled to finish it.
Nov 16, 2010 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Shelves: thrillers
As heard on The Moth podcast.

Warning: the Goodreads synopsis contains spoilers.
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Jonathan Santlofer is the author of five novels and a highly respected artist whose work has been written about and reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, and Arts, and appears in many public, private, and corporate collections. He serves on the board of Yaddo, one of the oldest artist communities in the country. Santlofer lives and works in New York City.
More about Jonathan Santlofer...

Other Books in the Series

Kate McKinnon (3 books)
  • Color Blind (Kate McKinnon, #2)
  • The Killing Art (Kate McKinnon, #3)

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