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The Brutal Art

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,089 Ratings  ·  373 Reviews
Ethan Muller is struggling to establish his reputation as a dealer in the cutthroat world of contemporary art when he stumbles onto a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: in a decaying New York slum, an elderly tenant named Victor Cracke has disappeared, leaving behind an enormous trove of original artwork. Nobody can say anything for certain about Cracke except that he came an ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published 2008 by Sphere
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Arielle Walker
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thriller
It's always fun to read books set in the art world. So much is recognisable, but always in caricature, and this one was a pretty good one.

I did think that the main character/narrator was kind of a prick, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment at all.
Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)
Author: Jesse Kellerman
Published: 2008
Recommended for: fans of crime fiction

This book took me a little while to get into it and understand it, but once I did I was hooked on it! I haven't read a book by Jesse Kellerman before or his parents so I was new to his style of writing but it certainly kept my attention throughout the book and it is one that does stick in your mind.
The pace of the book is kept up throughout it doesn't have a lull in it where you think if you should continue with it or
Caro M.
This was surprisingly and really good, especially for the randomly picked book that I didn't even intend to read. But I checked first ten pages and I was sucked in. A page turner, it's what it was. It was just so well written.

The story includes many seemingly uncombinable subjects, such as art and art selling business, family secrets, madness, a hunt for a pedophile, daddy issues, and some other things, more or less. The intrigue was well twisted. At the same time it managed to be witty and funn
My Inner Shelf
Encore une découverte magnifique ! Le thriller artistique !
Le narrateur, marchand d’art qui cherche encore sa voie, s’adresse directement au lecteur et annonce la couleur par un mea culpa. Plus qu’un thriller, il s’agit surtout d’un roman psychologique et social, une quasi-saga sur la filiation, l’héritage, le destin, et l’art. Ethan est un personnage très recherché, et très crédible, on plonge dans son monde du marché de l’art sans être englouti, on reste dans l’intrigue d’un bout à l’autre. Le
Laura Thompson
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THIS is a great book. I grabbed it randomly off the shelf at the library, pushing the stroller with my two year old inside, just grabbing stuff so I could get out of there before the baby got cranky and hoping for the best. Which--crazily enough--I got. This book is about the art world, which I know nothing about, so I was concerned, but I had no reason to be. Jesse Kellerman does a beautiful job explaining, but not over explaining. The characters in this book are extremely well drawn, the dialo ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look I am a Kellerman fan, loved his mum's writing and his dad's so I knew it would be worth the read and I don't think I was wrong. The plot was great and the ending even better
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: policier
Plutôt un intriguant portrait de famille qu'un palpitant polar

Avec "Les visages", on débute par un polar et on finit par un roman dramatique. Ethan Muller dirige une galerie d'art et fait partie de ces gens assez suffisant, hautains qu'on a du mal à apprécier. Sans compter que c'est le rejeton rebelle d'une grande dynastie américaine, définitivement fâché avec son père. Jusqu'au jour où on lui demande de venir dans un appartement vide où se trouve d'étranges dessins. Ce sont des dizaines de mil
Lance Greenfield
Oct 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Original, but hardly compelling

This book is very difficult for me to discuss, as I am still not sure whether I like it or not. At times the writing is great, and I cannot wait to find out what happens next. At other times, I found myself saying, "Well, that's totally ridiculous!" and laying the book to one side until I could return with a little more enthusiasm.

There are a few intriguing twists and turns along the way, so one would expect an unpredictable ending. Not so. The last few chapters l
Noel G
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Well i was torn between a 3 and a 4 star for this one. In fact whilst writing this i have changed it to a 4!

Very in depth and strange plot but i have to admit that i was gripped by the strangeness. Not so sure about the style of writing but it allow some of the mystery to be slowly released without cluttering up one chapter with different times in the past, which may become confusing.

As detective stories go it was entertaining, if a little predictable. I in fact had pre-empted the twist about ha
I liked the mystery threaded through this story, I also liked the way the author took us back in time and showed us the Muller family history. Showing the reader where Ethan Muller came from allowed us to better understand his relationship with his family, especially his father. I liked that we got to see a little slice of life from each generation and the supporting characters had the spotlight for a brief period of time. All of the characters were really well imagined and the outcome of the st ...more
Ian Mapp
Sep 07, 2009 rated it liked it
My advice to anyone reading this is to concentrate - especially during the interludes.

The inerludes kind of ruin the book as a narrative structure but are used in a hamfisted fashion by the author to explain the backstory.

Its a shame - as most of the book plays with the form of a detective novel and is told in the first person - with the art dealer Ethan Muller talking directly to the reader and explaining why he isnt exaggerating and why the usual forms of a detective thriller (murders, chases,
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Ethan Muller, a struggling art dealer, stumbles upon a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a slum building vacated abruptly by an elderly tenant, he almost cannot believe his good luck. The treasure trove of stunning art work is sure to put Ethan in the forefront of the art scene.

But what does anyone know about Victor Cracke, except that he came and went in solitude for nearly forty years, his genius hidden and unacknowledged.

Soon Ethan is caught up in the middle of a mystery, aided by a reti
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazingly intriguing and entertaining novel. Ethan Muller, the main character in this story begins his narrative by introducing this account as a detective story and in a way it is but only in the sense that everyone’s life is a detective story. Admittedly, most lives are not as complex or as privileged as Ethan’s but everyone’s life is just as influenced by fate and chance and we find that his attempts to exercise control are no more successful than anyone else. History and forbeare ...more
Gae-Lynn Woods
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got home with this audiobook and was disappointed: when I picked it up, I thought I was getting a Jonathan Kellerman, not a Jesse Kellerman. I'd read one of Jesse's earlier works and didn't want to try again. However, I stuck a CD in the player and was sucked into a story that held me captive. Part of my fascination was the reader's voice - he does a great job of portraying Ethan Muller and the other characters. But the voice can do no more than deliver the story.

Jesse Kellerman does a wonderf
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, fiction
A man goes missing and the landlord discovers an enormous amount of artwork left behind in his apartment. These drawings are given to our protagonist, an art dealer, who introduces them to the world. But no sooner does the buzz start than he is contacted by a retired police officer who feels the art has a connection to a series of unsolved child murders. He tries to solve the mystery while learning more about his own family history and connection to the drawings.

Jesse Kellerman doesn't really wr
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have liked Jesse Kellerman's work in the past. As a matter of fact, this whole family (the Kellerman's) have put out some very good pieces of fiction. This book was very bleak and drawn out though.

The book opens with "In the beginning, I behaved badly." I think I started the book twice becuase I was unsure of how that was going to start the book off. I think that statement sets up the atmosphere for the fact that not all of the characters are very likeable, but I can live with that.

Anyway, as
Very promising for the first two-thirds or so, but then starts to prove the adage that it's much harder to finish writing a book than start one. Kellerman's got some interesting things to say about how modern art is evaluated and sold (and skewers the NYC art scene nicely), but the narrative push behind his work peters out at the end. His protagonist even acknowledges as such in what has to be one of the most terribly meta moments I've read in a while, but even that's not enough to save it. A de ...more
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the writing throughout this book. The story was interesting and concluded nicely, but it was just too long and wordy. I was torn between giving it 3 or 4 stars but I liked the writing enough to go with 4. I also enjoyed the chapters that went back in time and how it all tied up in the end. I did, however, find the first half of the chapters from the past slightly pointless. I think they could have started a lot later in time. But the story was good and not as predictable as I wa ...more
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sometimes I find the star-rating difficult. I give this book 4 stars because it was very good rather than "I really liked it". The content was quite stomach-turning so 'liking' it isn't an appropriate word for me in this instance. I enjoyed the way it was written following two periods of history concurrently and found the story-line very engaging.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'auteur écrit très bien, et c'est globalement un bon thriller, mais malheureusement les commentaires de 4ème de couv du style "meilleur thriller de l'année" etc m'en ont fait espérer plus... Au final je m'attendais à un dénouement un peu plus dingue et je suis restée sur ma faim... Dommage !
Sarah Pottenger
I can't remember what bothered me about this one. I do recall that I was disappointed. Jesse Kellerman's first novel, Sunstroke, was so good. Then he came out with Trouble, which was just icky. The Genius disappointed me. I don't think he's writing to his full potential.
Rosiemae Burton
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Well written, good plot, a likeable narrator and gave me a good insight into the art world/New York/Germany. I did find the flashbacks a bit confusing at times and would've liked the novel to tie up a few more loose ends but overall, I really enjoyed the book.
May 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-books
Started off promising... but there were a few too many stretches in the plot for it to be even remotely believable.
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's Child 44 in the modern art Soho world. Just another "popular library" book that was interesting enough to be read through, but not compelling enough to be worth an afterthought.
Bcoghill Coghill
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More a novel than a mystery - I was very much engaged. The family flash backs were, at first, annoying but came to fruition at the end of the book.
Manfred Moonlight Ackermann
Je ne sais plus comment je me suis procuré ce livre. Je marche beaucoup aux recommandations à droite ou à gauche, gens, magazines, internet et j'en passe. C'est comme ça que l'on peut tomber sur des petites pépites, découvrir de nouveaux auteurs etc...
Parfois c'est même en circulant dans les rayons d'un magasin qu'un livre peut m'attirer par son nom, sa couverture, cela me donnant envie de lire la 4ème de couv et ensuite si l'histoire me titille un minimum je peux me le procurer sans avoir beso
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is based on an intriguing premise and the interludes link in a thread to the past.
The first half of the book was interesting and throughout the book themes such as the impact of parenting, discrimination and vulnerability are explored.
The twist is revealed early on and this does have a negative impact. There are also aspects when it feels Kellerman just wants to tie up so he quickly completes it, which means it loses a sense of reality.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Struggled at first with this book., but to anyone who has chosen to read it please persevere! An excellent read, intelligently wrote and so unlike your normal thriller. Will certainly be reading his other books.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
If you have an interest in art, this might be the book for you. There are a lot of reference to the art world. Many scenes go on in storytelling mode as opposed to dialogue to get the story. So those scenes can be a little slow. It was ok as a mystery but semi predictable.
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Jesse Kellerman was born in Los Angeles in 1978. His award-winning plays have been produced throughout the United States and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Most recently, he received the Princess Grace Award, given to America’s most promising young playwright. He lives with his wife in New York City.

More about Jesse Kellerman...

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“... for what is love, if not the willingness to repeat oneself?” 3 likes
“Part of what attracts us to artists is their otherness, their refusal to conform, their big middle finger stuck up in the face of Society, such that their very a- or immorality is what makes their art artistic rather than academic.” 1 likes
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