- USD 11.99
A museum exhibit celebrating the art of killing turns deadly in this “fiendishly clever pitch-black comedy” skewering the contemporary Italian art world (The Australian).
Morris Duckworth has a dark past. Having married and murdered his way into a wealthy Italian family, he has become a respected member of Veronese business life. But it’s not enough.
Never satisfied with being anything short of the best, Duckworth plans to put on the most exciting art exhibition of the decade, based on a subject close to his heart: killing. All the great slaughters of scripture and classical times will be on show, from Cain and Abel to Brutus and Caesar. But as Duckworth meets resistance from the director of Verona’s Castelvecchio Museum, everything starts to unravel. His children are rebelling, his mistress is asking for more than he wants to give, his wife is increasingly attached to her aging confessor, and, worst of all, it’s getting harder to ignore the ghosts that swirl around. The shame of it is that Duckworth really did not want to have to kill again.
Tim Parks’s acclaimed Duckworth trilogy has been thirty years in the making. In Painting Death, he brings it and his serial-killer alter ego to a very fitting—and very funny—end.
“Duckworth is a worthy heir to a tradition of seductive, cultured literary monsters that include Humbert Humbert and Hannibal Lecter.” —The Sunday Times
“Neatly written, full of calamitous moments in which the comedy is suddenly elbowed aside by genuine emotion.” —Spectator
“Colorful, often amusing . . . Parks uses the museum intrigue to draw, as he has done in his more serious efforts, a vivid, impressionistic portrait of contemporary Italy.” —The New York Times
Parks's cerebral third Morris Duckworth mystery (after 2001's Mimi's Ghost) finds the middle-aged Englishman every bit as depraved as his younger self. Having systematically dispensed with members of the rich Italian family he married into, Morris is a respected (if not suspected) member of Verona society. To further ensure his good name, he has conceived a blockbuster art exhibit Painting Death: The Art of Assassination from Caravaggio to Damien Hirst whose theme is dear to his heart. Morris relishes the bloody details of each famous masterpiece, since they remind him of his own sociopathic artistry. Faced with a meddlesome museum director while juggling his rebellious children, enigmatic wife, and sexy Libyan mistress, he holds secret consultations with his advisory board: the ghosts of his seven earlier victims. When Morris decides that certain Veronese citizens deserve to die, the local cardinal and the mayor, who are aware of his homicidal predilections, have different ideas. Admirers of Parks's mainstream fiction should enjoy this black comedy, but mystery fans may find it too wordy and the pace too slow.