The Sculptor, by Gregory Funaro


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. 


2 thoughts on “The Sculptor, by Gregory Funaro”

  1. I love your blogs. You crack me up. This book was rough. The idea of plastination was so cool, and he blew it by boring us to death. I kept wondering why his editor didn’t make him take out all the spoilers and redundancy. There was potential in this book, but it was a major let down. The art history is interesting in small doses, not long narratives often disguised, as you pointed out, as dialogue. I want someone to write about plastination and not ruin it. Haha.


  2. Gwen your blogs are brilliant! They always make me giggle (hunka hunka). Even though I liked the book, mostly because for me it was easy to get through and picture, you’ve made some really good points. I completely agree that the sculptor didn’t even seem to come up with his own ideas for his killing, but had to take it from the book. In a way it was all very overdramatic of him which would put him in the thrill seeker category from that Howdunnit chapter, but Funaro kind of tries to mask it as some higher calling that is making him do this. It all comes down to the publicity he wants. I do like Cathy’s character. I kind of felt that all those insecurities and worries made her more of a civilian, rather than someone who is already equipped to come to the rescue, guns ablazin’. You make some really good points here.


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