Former policewoman Kate McKinnon is the central character in Jonathan Santlofer's debut thriller, The Death Artist. Ten years ago, she traded her badge, homicide cases and ill-fitting uniform for a sexy husband, a New York penthouse and a career in art history. It was a good trade. Successfully making the transition from cop to cashmere-clad socialite, Kate fills her days hosting a television art series, planning fund-raisers and sponsoring budding artists. Then the murders begin.
When one of her proteges is murdered, Kate discovers that her past and present are about to collide. A serial killer is on the loose, and before each crime, the killer sends Kate a cryptic clue. Constantly smoking, frequently cursing and occasionally wise-cracking, Kate is an independent and intelligent protagonist. Santlofer also conjures a large ensemble of supporting characters that are sharply drawn and distinctive. The author hits his stride, however, in creating escalating suspense as Kate mentally spars with the crafty killer. An internationally recognized painter, Santlofer turned to writing after a fire in an art gallery destroyed five years of his work. He skillfully uses his considerable knowledge to give readers an intriguing tour of museums, performance art, galleries and artists' studios in New York. In The Death Artist, Santlofer has produced an engrossing debut filled with plenty of simmering secrets and a multitude of motives for murder.