Welcome to my review of Death of a Painter by Matthew Ross! Huge thanks to Red Dog Press and Matthew for my copy of the book and also for a spot on this Blog Tour!
IN THE BUILDING GAME TIME IS MONEY AND MONEY IS EVERYTHING. UNFORTUNATELY FOR MARK POYNTER, HE’S RUN OUT OF MONEY AND HE’S FAST RUNNING OUT OF TIME.
When Mark Poynter discovers a murder on his worksite all of his financial problems suddenly seem a lot closer to home: was this a warning his debts are overdue?
Suspected of being the killer and worried at being the intended victim, the murder only makes Mark’s money problems worse, leading him to turn to the local villain, Hamlet, who has his own unique repayment plan in mind for Mark.
When two more deaths plunge him even further into debt, Mark finds himself faced with a choice – help the police and clear his name or help the villain and clear his debt.
Set in the Medway Towns on the grey margins of criminality, where no job’s too big, no dodge’s too small …
Death Of A Painter is the first in a new series of darkly comic crime fiction novels featuring the beleaguered builder Mark Poynter, aided and hindered in equal measure by his trusted crew of slackers, idlers and gossips, and the lengths they go to just to earn a living.
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I work in the construction industry so I am pretty un-shockable when it comes to ‘building site’ humour. Probably just as well with Death of a Painter… it’s got gallows humour and plenty of swearies – perfect!
Electrician Mark Poynter is what I think we will class as a lovable rogue – his heart’s in the right place but bad decisions and even worse luck means that he is in deep trouble. In debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds and unable to obtain payment for works carried out – the death of a painter on his best paying job results in the site being shut, Mark being classed as number one murder suspect, and pressure mounting from the local hard men who want paid.
Add in a potential new love interest, a local cat who hates him, mourning the recent death of his father and a brother he doesn’t know (or care) is dead or alive, poor old Marky Mark the Spark has quite a lot on his plate.
As this is the first book in a planned series, there’s a lot of characterisation in Death of a Painter. This is fine and expected in a series however alongside quite a convoluted story it did mean that I lost the thread a few times. However, I think the author did appreciate this as there are a couple of points during the story where you are given a rather handy recap between the characters! Perry is Mark’s new neighbour and potential love interest, she is taken into Mark’s confidence and it’s during these chats that the story so far is explained to Perry by Mark (and also to me, as I’d lost who was who and what was what), very cleverly done by the author!
Death of a Painter is a fab read, and it sets a good base for further Mark Poynter novels. There were a couple of loose threads left dangling for a follow up but the main one I am interested in is why does Mr Skinner the cat hate Mark so much?!
At times blisteringly funny and at others unbelievably sad, Death of a Painter is an excellent debut from Matthew Ross.
Death of a Painter was published by Red Dog Press on Monday 27th April 2020.
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About the Matthew Ross
Matthew Ross was born and raised in the Medway Towns, England. He still lives in Kent with his Kiwi wife, his children and a very old cat.
He was immersed in the building industry from a very early age helping out on his father’s sites during school holidays before launching into his own career at 17. He’s worked on projects ranging from the smallest domestic repair to £billion+ infrastructure, and probably everything in between.
A lifelong comedy nerd, he ticked off a bucket-list ambition and tried his hand at stand-up comedy. Whilst being an experience probably best forgotten (for both him and audiences alike) it ignited a love for writing, leading to various commissions including for material broadcast on BBC Radio 4 comedy shows.
Matthew moved into the longer format of novel writing after graduating from the Faber Academy in London in 2017.
‘Death Of A Painter’ is his first novel and the first in a planned series of stories featuring Mark Poynter and his associates.
Matthew enjoys reading all manner of books – especially crime and mystery; 80s music; and travelling and can’t wait for the next trip to New Zealand to spend time with family and friends.
I received a complimentary copy of Death of a Painter as part of this Red Dog Press Blog Tour. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion. So there.