Out of the Blue

John Milne, Author H. Hamilton $0 (309p) ISBN 978-0-241-11489-6
This story starts with a murder, ends with a spectacular car crash, and in between there are various crimes involving the German police and the CIA. But the book isn't so much a thriller as perhaps the best portrait of an artist since Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth. Paul Brown is a near-legendary painter with a few (maybe) ex-wives, a very checkered past that he changes occasionally, a deteriorating body and a sexual itch that won't go away. The novel starts on his 60th birthday and follows him for a week, from London to his Bavarian mountain retreat. Brown, and the murdered man, may have been spying on some right-wing German plotters, who break into the artist's lodgings and car looking for a possible report on their plot. German police and the CIA take a mostly inept interest, while Brown travels to Bavaria with Julia Powell, an art historian writing his biography. Along with telling touches about modern life, the best part of Milne's story is seeing life through an artist's jaundiced eye: ""The picture is a trick, even when it depicts only itself.'' Paul Brown is a wonderful creation, even at his most selfish, cranky and lying. Milne also wrote Tyro and London Fields. January
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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