Next month, I’ll be attending the Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp in West Bend, Wisconsin. It’s my favorite writers’ retreat/workshop. We didn’t meet last year because the world was hibernating, but those of us who have survived the pandemiclypse are slowly crawling out of our caves, blinking at the sun, and dipping our collective toes into pools of humanity known as “gatherings” where we laugh and talk and even hug people who don’t share our DNA.

One of those people who will be attending the Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp as an instructor is SJ Rozan, an award-winning, best-selling crime fiction writer best known for her Lydia Chin series. When SJ isn’t writing, playing basketball, or photographing her beloved streets of NYC, she is teaching writers the craft of storytelling. Because I’m looking forward to seeing SJ and other returning participants, I thought I’d post my reviews of their books during the month of July. I’ll start with SJ Rozan’s 2020 release.

SJ Rozan’s latest Lydia Chin/Bill Smith crime novel, The Art of Violence, has more twists and turns than the back alleys of New York City. One can always expect an intriguing story from Rozan, but this one turns the investigation on its head from the very beginning. Rozan immerses readers in the elite and sometimes ethically questionable business of art dealers, a particular treat. And even when you think it’s over, it ain’t over. If you’re already a fan of SJ Rozan, you’ll love The Art of Violence. If you are new to Lydia Chin and Bill Smith, you’re going to want to read the whole series. I listened to the audio version and the narrator is great!

Here’s the publisher’s blurb: Bill Smith and Lydia Chin must track down a serial killer stalking women in New York’s contemporary art scene.

Former client Sam Tabor, just out of Greenhaven after a five-year homicide stint, comes to Bill Smith with a strange request. A colossally talented painter whose parole was orchestrated by art world movers and shakers, Sam’s convinced that since he’s been out he’s killed two women. He doesn’t remember the killings but he wants Smith, one of the few people he trusts, to investigate and prove him either innocent or guilty.

NYPD detective Angela Grimaldi thinks Sam’s “a weirdo.” Smith has no argument with that: diagnosed with a number of mental disorders over the years, Sam self-medicates with alcohol, loses focus (except when he’s painting), and has few friends. But Smith doesn’t think that adds up to serial killer. He enlists Lydia Chin to help prove it.

Smith and Chin delve into the world surrounding Sam Tabor, including his brother, two NYPD detectives, and various other artists, dealers, collectors, curators, and art connoisseurs. No answers appear. Evidence is found and lost again. And more bodies turn up.

Sam Tabor might be just a crazy artist. But someone is killing people in his orbit. If not Sam, who? Why? And who will be next?

Are You Scot Curious?


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