I like Christopher Moore, but I feel like most of his books have some element that frustrates me (with Lamb, it was the ending). In this case, it was the inclusion of the Colorman's origin story. I really didn't feel the need to know precisely where (and when) he came from. All of the various trips to the past were enough for me. I know I initially questioned where the original blue came from, but once Moore decided to explain it, I realized I liked it better as a mystery.
Anyway. Plot. The novel opens with VanGogh's death. After spending weeks seeming insane, and complaining that a little "Colorman" was following him, VanGogh shot himself in the chest (or did he?!), then walked a mile down the road for help. He died later that night. His friends in Paris, most notably Lucien Lessard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, are convinced that Vincent must have been murdered. They begin to investigate the last few months of his life --aided by a few other famous Parisian names. Lucien, however, gets distracted by the return of his lost love, Juliette, who broke his heart. Her return causes Lucien to begin behaving strangely...much in the way VanGogh behaved shortly before his untimely demise...
The intrepid investigators eventually put two and two together. This "Colorman" has been stalking painters for years, longer than any of them realize. With the help of Bleu, who possesses the models and inspires the painters, the Colorman is able to continue making Ultramarine, or the Sacré Bleu. The more emotion poured into the painting, the more color can be produced. Through this process, both the Colorman and Bleu have stayed alive for millennia.
I wavered back and forth on this. At first I didn't like it too much...I expected it to be funnier, given that it's a Christopher Moore book. Once I got past the lack of laugh-out-loud humor, I started enjoying it for what it was. Much of this reads like a detective story -- Lucien, Henri and co trying to solve Vincent's murder (which sort of falls by the wayside about 3/4 of the way through) and eventually trying to defeat the Colorman himself. I enjoyed most of the flashbacks to his and Bleu's various exploits, but as I said, I really could have done without the origin story. It didn't make a great deal of sense and felt wholly unnecessary (was she in the asteroid? She calls herself a muse, which to me is a god of inspiration, and really all the explanation I needed). Also, and this could be because I'm dealing with an exceedingly immature group of 7th graders at the moment, but I felt like Moore relied way too much on scatological humor for laughs. "Poopstick" was only marginally funny the first time, and continued to grow less and less amusing. Moore has a great, dry sense of humor, he's far above poop jokes.
Overall, I did still enjoy this in spite of the few issues I had with it. I think Moore does his best work with historical fiction. As with Lamb and Fool, he's clearly done his research, and has a knack for filling in the blanks in history.