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Published June 20th 2019
Who Killed the Art Critic
Crossing the Lines is an intriguing crime novel written by Sulari Gentill, which is also a winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction. The Ned Kelly Awards are Australia's leading literary awards for crime writing in both the crime fiction and true crime genres. They were established in 1996 by the Crime Writers Association of Australia to reward excellence in the field of crime writing within Australia.
Photo courtesy Goodreads
Gentill has created a story of Madeline D'Leon, a corporate lawyer and part time crime fiction writer, who embarks on writing a new novel. It is a slight departure from this character's normal style as she explores crime fiction. In doing so, she creates her lead character, Edward McGinnity, the suave, intelligent, attractive author (clichéd, I know), who finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery.
The murder surrounds the unexplained death of slightly unlikable, arrogant, self-centric art critic Geoffrey Vogel who is found dead in a stairwell at the opening of an art exhibition by Edward's closest friend and talented artist, Willow.
The story is written through the voices of both authors, Madeline and Edward, as they create their own fictional works. The problem is that Edward is a figment of Madeline's literary creation. Or is he? Madeline discovers through Edward that "the demons of our own creations are always more dangerous that the ones who walk through our doors."
She finds herself deeply drawn to Edward to the point that she begins to spend almost every waking hour "with him" on her laptop to see the story unfold. For Madeline, she and Edward have formed a close and intimate bond as she deals with the ever increasing distance between herself and her doctor husband, Hugh Lamond, and as she grieves the latest in the serious of miscarriages. She distances herself from friends, becoming more and more involved in writing the book.
Crossing the Lines is sort of a "Sliding Doors" of crime fiction with two stories running in parallel. Like any good crime fiction book, it is trapped by lies, intrigue, a touch of suspense, a list of unanswered questions, suspects, protagonists and extras.
The murder mystery follows a somewhat predictable path and conclusion but this is a largely character-driven novel. I found myself sympathising with Madeline during her loneliness, cheering for her during literary triumphs, and hopeful for her to find a pathway through her pain and mental anguish.
The book was not too taxing and more absorbing as Edward and Madeline's story together unfolded.This 257 page turner released by Pantera Press and published in 2017 ended rather abruptly with the twist emerging in the final moments. Despite this somewhat sudden halt, it was an enjoyable read which helps us to better understand the inner dialogue of a writer and tells a murderous tale at the same time.