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The Genius by Jesse Kellerman
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The Genius (2008)

by Jesse Kellerman

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5343218,880 (3.55)21
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  1. 10
    The Art of Murder by José Carlos Somoza (Booksloth)
  2. 00
    Headlong by Michael Frayn (Cecilturtle)
  3. 00
    Sunstroke by Jesse Kellerman (orange_suspense)
    orange_suspense: Although the plots are very different, this novel is also a slowly told suspense thriller.
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English (23)  French (7)  Dutch (2)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
So many mixed feelings about this book. I was really in love with it until about half the way through. Intelligent, elegant writing, a fresh, strong first-person voice with wit and charisma, an original premise, an intriguing mistery, an inside look at the world of art dealing and galleries, wow, I was truly excited, this was a star!! But then, the second part came, and it was like seeing a stunning model tumble down the catwalk... Obviously I'm talking about my subjective reading experience here, but here are the big problems: 1). The charachters: not a single one of them is remotely likeable. They are all immensely irritating people, first of all the main charachter, who comes across as an imbecil not only with no direction in life, but also with a selfish, lazy, spoiled, immature attitude about every thing he does. He starts by saying "I've done bad things in my life", and by the end you realize that he actually hasn't. He just likes to say that. You, the reader, have actually done much, much worse things. He's just a boring guy. Bo-ring. I couldn't care less about him. 2). But let's come to the biggest problem of all: the second part of the book lacks completely in drive and grip. This is a story that really grips you fom the start, like a strong, solid hand that is gripping the accelerator of a motorbike, and then in the second part becomes a semi-dead limp hand like the one a mortician would offer you to greet you. What the hell happened?? All of a sudden, with all those over-long flashbacks that don't seem to go anywhere, those interior monologues about an immensely uninteresting relationship with the daughter of an ex policeman, and a series of scenes that fail to add or develop any of the misteries introduced in the first half, I was absolutely bored and I couldn't care anymore about anything that was going on! Some other reviewer said "with this author, you're in for the ride, rather than for a defined plot". Well, a tiny bit ambitious, huh? With Victor Hugo, perhaps, I might be. But this is no Hugo. I need a reason to keep listening to you, mate. The question that the reader should never be asking is: "why am I listening to this guy?", but I did, and often! It just feels to me like the author got lazy toward the end. Or perhaps he was experimenting something different, to break the traditional story telling structure? Where was that muscle you can feel thoughout the first part of the book, that power? All I got was that lazy "I'm talking directly to the reader because I dont know where to go anymore" stuff! I dont want Tom Cruise staring at the camera, I want to follow a narration.
Look, I'm sure the author himself knows what mistakes he made with this novel and he would be able to articulate that much better than I am. A well written, insightful second half does not compensate for this deadly sin: the utter loss of narrative drive in the second half of the book. ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
Gallery owner Ethan Muller stumbles into a collection of bizarre and intricate pencil drawings left in the abandoned apartment complex owned by his father. The amazing details of the art drives Muller to investigate the missing artist and track him down.
I like how this story unfolds. It's told in parts, one historical, one about the missing person and one present day revolving around the investigation. When all three parts intersect towards the last third of the book, it makes an wonderful conclusion. The only drawback is the book is a little long and gets lost at times. This is my second books of Jesse Kellerman and I find him to be a fine author thus far. ( )
  FMRox | Mar 4, 2012 |
Wow! So many diverse reviews here - and so many well written & insightful. I'm not a huge fan of either Jonathan or Faye Kellerman, but I do like psychologically driven books & books about art. This book was amazing. I learned so much - I'd never even heard the term "outsider art", and I've seen exhibitions of art created by institutionalized people. I've also never realized importance of the symbiosis between the artist and the art dealer, much less how 'what is bought' influences what is valued by the public in general.
I liked the juxtaposition between the 2 stories: the family history & what was going on in the present. Victor Crake's drawing that fit together to become an enormous work of art was sufficiently creepy. Add in the serial killer conection and I was hooked. Seeing how both stories came together was ingenious.
Ethan Muller is flawed, but appealing, and I really enjoyed his story. ( )
  abandoned | Jan 24, 2011 |
The Genius is the third output by the very talented Jesse Kellerman who, in my opinion, already delivered two highly interesting and entertaining written suspense novels: Sunstroke and Trouble. Whereas the first one was a thriller beneath the relentless Mexican sun, the latter dealt with a medical student becoming an over night hero and at once a victim to a frantic stalker.

The new novel’s territory is the New York art scence with a narcissistic art dealer, strange art collectors and weird characters all along – first of all the so called outsider artist Victor Cracke.

Ethan Muller, the main protagonist, is a successful art dealer and soon discovers the most astonishing work of art he ever came in contact with. The only problem: the artist himself is missing and it seems that he has left behind his artwork without caring for it anymore. Soon after Ethan presents the pieces in his gallery, a former police officer, reading an article in the Times about the show, makes a shocking discovery: The center of the piece displays hand-drawn pictures of five young boys sharing one gruesome feature: they all were rape victims back in the days; abuser (still) unknown. Was the missing artist not only a genius but also a psychotic serial killer and pedophilic rapist? And what connection, if at all, has Ethan to the work of the genius – for his name appears in one of the drawings?

What also would have been a good plot for an action thriller with lots of shooting and more and more victims and lots of blood and sex was transformed by Kellerman into a character and dialog driven, slowly told suspense thriller with hints of philosophical reflection on art and the art market. The very vivid characters and the strength to write relalistic conversations, which often don’t lack a certain amount of humor, make the novel very enjoyable. The interludes, which tell the story of the Muller family from the 19th century to present, are equally entertaining and interesting psychological studies.

In the end The Genius was different from what I expected after reading Trouble. Kellerman clearly went back into the waters of Sunstroke – a very slowly told story with excellent characters and a nice plot that serves the purpose of, although telling a story, mainly calling the figures to life. ( )
  orange_suspense | Jan 3, 2011 |
A very good read love books that go back to an un solved past. ( )
  ilurvebooks | Dec 9, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
True art is always found where we least expect it, where nobody is thinking about it or saying its name. Art hates to be recognized and greeted by name. It flees instantly. - Jean Dubuffet
. . . a mirror of smoke, cracked and dim in which to judge himself . . . - The Book of Odd Thoughts 13:15
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In the beginning, I behaved badly.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0399154590, Hardcover)

Harlan Coben on The Genius
Harlan Coben is one of the virtuosos of the modern thriller. Each new novel hits the top of bestseller lists across the world, and he has become the first author to sweep the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony awards. Beginning with his acclaimed Myron Bolitar series (including the recent Promise Me), Coben soon branched out into stand-alone thrillers that have made his name as a master of clockwork suspense, including his latest, Hold Tight, which brings his trademark thrills into the most basic dilemmas of the modern suburban family.

"In the beginning, I behaved badly."

That’s how the uber-talented Jesse Kellerman opens up his newest novel, The Genius, and right away, he has you.

I won’t give you a long plot summary because others will do it better, but briefly: A young art dealer named Ethan Muller manages to get hold of a treasure trove of original art after the artist, an unknown shut-in named Victor Cracke, disappears. The first sign of trouble crops up when a retired cop recognizes one of the figures as being a boy who died some 40 years earlier. Ethan's life spirals out of control from there. Before the story is over, Ethan will learn to question everything about his "wonderful" discovery--as well as his own family's destiny.

Yes, the book is gripping and compelling and Ethan Muller, the narrator, is wonderfully wry company, but what truly separates Kellerman from the pack is his prose. Simply put, he is a wonderful writer. He has the ability to make everything seem, well, true. Every scene has that ring of authenticity that’s so elusive in fiction. I bought everything that Ethan did--and loved the flashbacks showing how the Muller family went from poor immigrants to real-estate tycoons.

I love books where past crimes will not stay buried. The web of deceit in The Genius stretches back four decades, but it is still claiming victims. Jesse Kellerman tightens the noose slowly, and we his readers can do nothing but turn the pages.

I have been a fan since his debut, Sunstroke, but he's getting better and better. If you've already read Jesse Kellerman, don't waste anymore time reading this review. If you haven't yet discovered his work, The Genius is the place to begin--and not a bad description of the author.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:30 -0400)

Ethan Muller is struggling to establish his reputation as a dealer in the cut-throat world of contemporary art when he is alerted to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: in a decaying New York slum, an elderly tenant has disappeared, leaving behind a staggeringly large trove of original drawings and paintings.… (more)

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