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Death of an Artist: A Mystery
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Death of an Artist: A Mystery

3.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,105 Ratings  ·  196 Reviews
In Kate Wilhelm's latest crime novel, a small Oregon town is rocked by a wheels-within-wheels case of art, fraud, and murder.
Silver Bay, Oregon, a small coastal resort town with nearly a thousand residents, is home to three generations of women: Marnie, the long-widowed owner of a small gift shop; Van, her granddaughter who is about to graduate medical school; and Stef, m
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Minotaur Books
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Mar 10, 2016 Cherie rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie. The artist and what drove her to paint, to be the odd, eccentric person she was, was very interesting. Her mother and daughter and grandson all had a part in her life and in her story. There is a secondary story of a retired, dis-abled NYC policeman who becomes a part of the little town on the Oregon coast, and becomes involved in the lives of the three women when he finds work with a local furniture maker.
May 17, 2012 Larraine rated it it was ok
An artist in a small Oregon seaside town is known for her on and off again talent and her emotional roller coaster personality. She lives in a two family house with her mother. She is married, but she and her husband don't formally live together. They are having problems. She has a grown daughter who is finishing medical school and will be interning in a Chicago hospital Stef, the artist, doesn't want to sell her art until she has detached herself emotionally from every work. This takes her year ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Mikkee rated it liked it
Death of An Artist was described as a mystery, but the page turning type of mystery that keeps you wondering and guessing at the "who dun it?". The author spent a lot of time in establishing all the characters in the book at the front end, and I was almost a third of the way in before the murder happened. You never once had to guess who had done it, you just wondered if there would be justice, no justice, or vigilante justice.

The book was described as a mystery, and I went into it with that mind
Death of an Artist doesn't follow the typical formula murder mystery. There is not an immediate murder followed by a police investigation. The book progresses slowly by introducing characters in the small Oregon town of Silver Bay long before the actual murder occurs.

The book description gives away the identity of both the victim and suspect. The victim is Stefany Markov and the suspect is her 4th husband, Dale Oliver. I felt as if I was reading a cozy episode of Murder She Wrote until the troub
Death of an Artist doesn't follow your typical murder mystery format. In fact, gbgyyyucvfyvyvyttggeu. Sorry, my dog decided to try her hand at typing. With her tongue. It was a sticky situation. ;)
Kate Wilhelm really likes slow plots and many, many details. The storyline went a little slow for me, and in audiobook format that can become a real chore. I didn't really like the narrator's voice to begin with, but I needed to know the murderer would get his come-uppence by the end. (You know pretty
Aug 21, 2012 Bonne rated it liked it
It kept my attention. I had it as an audiobook and listened to it in the car and when I worked out. The plot was not had to follow which is exactly what I want to get me through those times when the task at hand is not totally consuming. The characters were predictable--the good were good and the bad stayed bad.
Moira Russell
May 21, 2012 Moira Russell marked it as to-finish
Shelves: ebook, on-the-kindle
Skeletons was great, Price of Silence decidedly less so, and this one is so stilted and the characters so flat (the Sensitive Cop! the Gigolo Husband! the Wild Artist! &c &c) it's going on the to-finish pile.
Apr 25, 2012 Linda rated it did not like it
No mystery know who did it and who was murdered. The character were flat and uninteresting. A complete disappointment.
Dec 04, 2012 Barb rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-fict, series, mystery
Nice set up and interesting people put in interesting places.

Silver Bay, Oregon, a small coastal resort town with nearly a thousand residents, is home to three generations of women. Marnie is the long-widowed owner of a small gift shop. Van is her granddaughter who is about to graduate medical school. And Stef is a mercurial, difficult and brilliant artist who refuses to sell her work. When Stef discovers that Dale Oliver, her latest husband in a very long line, is trying to sell her work behind
Barb Klein
May 04, 2012 Barb Klein rated it really liked it
“Death of an Artist” was a thrilling story by Kate Wilhelm. I was so taken in by the descriptive explanations of the art work that I could actually picture it in my mind. I was also caught up in the interaction among the grandmother, Marnie; the daughter, Steph and the daughter Van. What an interesting family! When Tony, the retired, disabled detective seeks to discover the murderer, the book really got interesting. I was totally absorbed in the storyline. Ms. Wilhelm paints a picture of the Ore ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Ruth rated it it was ok
Oh, how I wanted to like this book. It started out with the best of intentions. There were interesting characters. There was the beginning of a plot. Then it all fell apart. I'm not sure if Ms. Wilhelm was rushed. I'm not sure if she thinks her readers are stupid. I'm not sure if she doesn't trust in her own storytelling ability. Rather than letting a mystery unravel, from the beginning you completely understand the crime and know "whodunit." Rather than building a solid story, the author seems ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Nancey rated it it was ok
We listened to this book on our recent trip to drive up the Oregon coast since it takes place in a coastal city I thought it'd be fun. But I wasn't thrilled with the story there was no suspense or mystery really it's all about proving who did it & it takes them forever to get to some obvious clues. Plus the romance was not needed and it felt forced.
Harry Lane
May 25, 2012 Harry Lane rated it really liked it
Wilhelm is an exceptionally good writer. I have enjoyed her books from the time she wrote SF. In this one, the characterizations and plot are up to her usual standard. I liked the small town setting, which is a change of pace. I hope this is the start of a new series.
Apr 09, 2012 Mimi rated it it was ok
I'd call this one just ok. It wasn't bad, just kind of flat. I expected some build up to the end and it just didn't. This was the first book I read by Kate Wilhelm and I probably won't read another.
Jun 02, 2012 Marcie rated it really liked it
I noticed quite a few of the author's fans did not care for this book. I don't think I have read her before so have no comparison. I thoroughly enjoyed the story--the location, characters, whys and wherefores. I would read her again.
Nancy Hollingsworth
Jul 16, 2012 Nancy Hollingsworth rated it it was ok

I listened to this. A couple of times I thought I couldn't wait for the book to be over. Parts were intriguing, but the inconsistencies in the love story bombed. I'm not a romance fan.
May 13, 2017 Melissa rated it liked it
This was entertaining, but not outstanding or anything. Just a nice story about an artist and her family life--and the mystery behind her death. The beginning was a bit confusing as to who was who but the characters were fleshed out more by the end. Again, nothing fabulous, but a nice story to pass the time.
Mar 14, 2017 Ruie rated it really liked it
This was my second Kate Wilhelm's book. I enjoyed the characters and their relationships Even though the murderer is known at an early moment, the final outcome still was suspenseful.
Trula Rae
Sep 15, 2015 Trula Rae rated it it was amazing
This mystery is more about how justice will be served than it is about who-done-it. It is clear early on that Stef, the hyper-sensitive, restless, yet very successful artist is killed by her greedy sleaze of a husband, Dan Oliver, soon to be ex-husband if he hadn’t killed her first. Marnie Markov knew things about her artist daughter, as only a mother can know, and she knew Dan Oliver had killed her daughter. Van, Stef’s daughter, is about to graduate medical school, so she knew the medical exam ...more
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
Oct 24, 2012 nomadreader (Carrie D-L) rated it really liked it
(originally posted at

My thoughts: Despite what the title implies, this mystery-of-sorts doesn't start with a death. And with only one artist in the cast of characters, Stef, her death is a foregone conclusion. Furthermore, who kills her is also (mostly) apparent from the beginning. The why is debated, but it's the how that makes this novel shine. Thus, Death of an Artist feels off kilter until Stef dies. It's rare to discover a mystery not concerned with who did
Mar 22, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it
How did I come across this book? I have no idea where or when I head of it. But I downloaded the audio version from my library. That is so much easier than getting the CDs, putting them on the computer & then on my iPhone. I'll go this route from now on unless I want to listen to a particular book that's only available on CDs.

As to the book, it is a good story with likable (or unlike-able as the case may be) characters. This book takes place on the beautiful Oregon coast near Newport, which
Nov 06, 2013 Rebecca rated it liked it
In Silver Bay on the Oregon coast lives Marnie with her fiftyish daughter Stef, a brilliant but mercurial artist who refuses to sell nearly all of her work and is never satisfied--with herself, her life, her men, her art, or anything else. Her daughter Van--mostly raised by Marnie--is finishing medical school and is bringing her young son Josh to the coast as well. When Stef's current husband tries to sell Stef's work without her permission, she explodes and removes all of her art from his galle ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Jane rated it liked it
I am a big fan of Kate Wilhelm's series with the brilliant Barbara Holloway, defense attorney in Eugene, OR. Wilhelm has likable characters and does courtroom scenes with Holloway so dramatically I often end up reading them out loud. Highly recommend the bunch, especially in order.
If you have a lazy day and are interested in solving mysteries, Death of An Artist is just fine. I enjoy Wilhelm's crisp, very human, story pacing. Set on the OR coast, it was a pleasant time spent.
Sep 20, 2014 Deb rated it liked it
The subtitle, "A Mystery," is not quite accurate. From the beginning, we know who killed Stef. Her daughter Van (Vanessa) and her mother Marnie are sure. But can they prove it? On the surface, it seems that Stef, an artist of genius, fell down a flight of stairs while carrying one of her paintings and broke her neck. But both surviving women witnessed her arguments with her estranged husband and knew him to be a greedy liar. A partner in an art gallery, he had been urging Stef to sell some of he ...more
Jill Heather
Jun 04, 2012 Jill Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I have nothing against "how we got him" mysteries; I rather like them, though they're harder to pull off well. I don't automatically dislike romance in a mystery, though I think it is not necessary in every book.

But this book just didn't pull either off well enough. There was nothing interesting in how they got him, nothing cleverly plotted or insightfully characterised. The romance seemed tacked on, as if knowing there was a single woman and a single man, they had to end up paired off. (view sp
Carolina Imhof
Sep 07, 2015 Carolina Imhof rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pr Latta
For fans of the Barabara Holloway series, this stand along novel is notable for what it is not: no court room drama scene, not a legal thriller or suspense novel. It is not a mystery, though there are murders. It is not a romance, though relationships are important to the story (and somewhat peripheral, if that makes any sense).

But it does have her trademark attention to detail and sifting through a lot of chaff (life isn't always cut and dry)to find the wheat and some of legal details (contrac
Aug 25, 2012 Libtechgurugoddess rated it really liked it
This is a really good inverted detective story that I had a hard time putting down! There are 3 generations of Markov women tied to the small coastal town of Silver Bay, Oregon. Marnie, the mother of Stef, and Van, Stef's daughter. Van is 29 years old and studying to be a doctor; she has a young son, but never had a husband. Stef is a tortured artist and seems to suffer from bipolar disorder; she's been married many times and she's just about to divorce her latest husband, Dale. To this town com ...more
Jun 24, 2012 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
An interesting book and very thoughtful and enjoyable. It was much more thoughtful than most of the mysteries I have read in the past few years.

However, I guess I was raised and grew up in a different era; or had a more developed sense of morality. This is not to say I always do the right thing. Far from it - I'm only human. However, I seems to have an overly developed sense of right and wrong. This does not stop me from doing wrong from time to time - I just beat myself over and over in interna
Jul 13, 2012 Verena rated it liked it
A small coastal village in Oregon is the setting for this story. The descriptions of the ocean and rugged coastline are one of the attractive features of an otherwise not very mysterious mystery. A gifted, but emotionally unstable artist, falls down a stairway, and her death is considered an accident. But her mother and her daughter are convinced that her most recent husband, the business manager of the gallery showing her artwork, murdered her. It’s convenient that a former New York City police ...more
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Kate Wilhelm’s first short story, “The Pint-Sized Genie” was published in Fantastic Stories in 1956. Her first novel, MORE BITTER THAN DEATH, a mystery, was published in 1963. Over the span of her career, her writing has crossed over the genres of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy and magical realism, psychological suspense, mimetic, comic, and family sagas, a multimedia stage producti ...more
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