Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Painter by Peter Heller

by:  Peter Heller
published by:  Knopf
publish date:  May 6, 2014

Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.

I absolutely loved The Dog Stars, so I was really excited to read The Painter.  This book turned out to be fantastic as well.   While The Dog Stars had this vague sense of hopefulness underlying all the darkness and despair, The Painter was like churning in a sea of anger and revenge.   It is an intense book.

The story starts with Jim moving to Colorado to start over after overcoming alcoholism in the wake of his divorce and the death of his daughter.  When he kills a man, his life starts to unravel, it sets off a chain of events that Jim would have never imagined.  From Colorado to Santa Fe, from mountain streams to art galleries, Jim is dodging the law and poachers dead set on revenge.  

Peter Heller would have to be a really interesting person.  The covers of his books are understated and not very exciting, but then the stories inside are so wild and violent.  I can't wait to read what he come out with next!

1 comment:

Marlene Detierro said...

In terms of the story, he keeps it interesting and compelling, letting the tension build and ebb. He evokes some interesting ethical questions, and not to give anything away, but I had to wonder in the end if the "sentence" fit the crime. Judge for yourself.

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