I feel like I’ve become a crotchety, old sourpuss with all my reviews lately, but publication brings with it some answerability I think. So here goes nothing.
On the plus side, this novel has no artsy-fartsy unreliable narrator – yay. The story is focused on the serial killer and his victims – also yay – and, like all the best killers, this killer had a “theme” – he wants to rouse humanity from its media-induced slumber.
But for some reason, this killer – The Sculptor, fka Christian – decides that the best way to do that is to recreate some of Michelangelo’s greatest sculptures with dead people?
The Sculptor himself is a hunka hunka burning love – six foot five inches tall since he was seventeen, and built like a brick shithouse (as my mother used to say) – but with deep emotional scars in all the right places. His mama was a whore who beat and abused him, while his saintly father ends up paralyzed in the car accident that killed his mother and left him a rich man. He abandons dreams of a history degree to become a nurse and take care of his invalid father.
As others have already pointed out, the Sculptor is just too good to be true – he’s big, strong, smart, wealthy, and artistic – what does he need to kill for? His life should be freaking perfect. And yet, he feels compelled to teach humanity a lesson in one of the most pointless, awkward displays of artistic imitation the world has ever seen. Because, let’s face it, this guy is just trying too hard to “shock and amaze” everyone with his ridiculous sculptures.
Not content to mind his own business, the Sculptor has to drag in Dr. Low Self-Esteem, er, Cathy Hildebrant, to his little crazy party. It was supposedly her book about Michelangelo, Slumbering in the Stone, which awakened him to his true calling. So he can’t even think of his own, original reason to be a serial killer – he has to steal it from someone else.
The female lead – and I use the term sarcastically – Cathy Hildebrant is a tenured professor of art history. She is also, if anyone is checking, “very pretty.”
Thank Christ. I hate those “not pretty” or “somewhat pretty” professors. She also strays dangerously close to dishrag status in this book with a lot of gratuitous mooning over FBI Special Agent Sam Markham.
Markham’s job is to trade large chunks of tedious exposition with Hildebrant, but it’s very cleverly disguised as dialogue. Oh, and he’s there to catch a serial killer, too. Honest.
I’m not exactly sure how Funaro does it, but he manages to take something interesting, and turn it into a hard slog. The going was toughest, I thought, right around Chapter 43, when we’re in The Sculptor’s head and he alternately refers to himself as The Sculptor and “the boy named Christian” for eleven fun-filled pages …
Don’t get me wrong – I love a well-researched book about a fascinating and brilliant Renaissance artist as much as the next person – but Dan Brown did it better in The Da Vinci Code.