The Murals

William Bayer. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8973-7
This suspense novel from Bayer (The Luzern Photograph) doesn’t make the most of its intriguing hook—the discovery of a room lined with creepy murals—or the warning in its preface about the reliability of the story’s several narrators. Jason Poe, who’s embarked on a multiyear project he calls Leavings: The Things They Left Behind, enters abandoned houses to photograph “the detritus folks abandon when they hurriedly leave a place.” A friend’s tip takes Poe to a boarded-up mansion in their “rust-belt town, Calista.” When Poe goes to the house and reaches a gazebolike structure on its roof, he’s stunned to find that all the walls are covered with life-size images of intense and unfriendly looking people who seem to be staring at him. Along with two friends, an art teacher and an investigative reporter, Poe looks into the history of the dwelling and the origin of its extraordinary artwork, which may be connected to a cult that targeted runaways. Readers will struggle to stay engaged with the meandering plot and characters who lack resonance. This is a missed opportunity for a gifted author. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/19/2019
Release date: 08/01/2019
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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