The Artist's Proof: A Mystery

Gordon Cotler, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-16831-5
Cotler (Prime Candidate, etc.) proffers a laid-back and listless introduction to a series sleuth, a retired NYC cop who has retreated to a sleepy Long Island town to paint. With a city pension and some artistic talent, Sid Shale lives in a tiny beach house with his brushes and what even he admits is a self-indulgently huge canvas to fill up. Sid's tranquil existence is shattered with the death of a teenage girl, Cassie Brennan. Cassie dies in the swank beach house of restaurateur and likely tax dodger Misha Sharanov. One of Sid's originals hangs on a wall in Sharanov's house, and nude sketches of Cassie soon implicate Sid in the girl's murder. Series starters are by nature often reduced to a narrative crawl by the need to establish character, and this is no exception. Furthermore, Cotler doesn't seem sure exactly how saintly he wants his lead character to be. Along for the ride are Sid's ex-wife, Lonnie, now the owner of an art gallery; their daughter, Sarah, whose college plans require Sid to sell a lot of paintings; a Texas couple who are shaking Sharanov down; Sharanov's unhappy wife; and Cassie's unhappy boyfriend. The languid pace leaves most of these figures thumbnail sketches, while the overambitious conclusion unconvincingly solves three mysteries. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-373-26300-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-7160-4
Open Ebook - 263 pages - 978-1-4668-8435-9
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