Indelible (A Chris Honeysett Mystery) by Peter Helton

indelibleArt for fun’s sake…

😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

When painter and PI Chris Honeysett is invited to take part in an exhibition at the Bath Arts Academy, where he was once briefly a tutor, it seems like it should be a fairly straightforward event. As soon as he gets there, though, Chris is persuaded against his better judgement to take on a teaching role on a temporary basis, and to help organise the exhibition. But it’s not long before all kinds of strange things are happening – mysterious symbols appearing on walls and carved into trees, glimpses of a wild looking man running naked through the woods, someone sneaking in at night to add to the exhibitors’ paintings and, worse, making them better! And it’s not long until one of the exhibitors is found murdered in circumstances that leave Chris as a prime suspect. It’s up to him to find the true culprit before any more murders are committed…

The story is told by Chris in the first person, past tense, and he’s a great character, engaging and full of humour. He’s not the most competent PI in the world, since it’s something he does only to augment the little money he earns from his paintings, and to be honest there isn’t a great deal of detection in the book. But he is observant – his painter’s eye allows him to spot things that others might miss, and he’s a pretty good judge of character. And there are some good characters for him to judge – the artists gathered together for the exhibition make a nicely eccentric bunch. There’s the drunken one with the chip on his shoulder, the rather punky woman who has made a career out of painting clouds, the installation artist who (rather fortunately) doesn’t need to make a living from her art since she has the luxury of having a rich husband, and the man that everyone hates because he suddenly became fashionable a few years back and is now as rich as he is pompous. Add on the various teachers at the academy, a range of students from the highly talented to the merest daubers, and the new owner, who hates all artists with a passion, and it’s understandable that Chris has his work cut out for him.

The story also gives us a glimpse into Chris’ personal life – feisty fellow artist Annis, his girlfriend and housemate, who also happens to be having a relationship with Tim, Chris’ partner in the PI business. Confused? So’s Chris, poor man! But the three of them work well together despite their mixed-up lives.

Peter Helton
Peter Helton

The tone of the book is fairly light but the storyline is meaty enough to prevent it from falling into ‘cosy’ territory. The setting in the Arts Academy gives it something of the feel of an old-fashioned country house mystery, with a limited number of suspects and possible victims. To be honest though, the murder plot is almost secondary to the enjoyment of Chris’ observations on his life, his fellow artists and, indeed, on the process of producing art. I know nothing about the mechanics of painting, sculpture etc, but I felt strongly that Helton does and, through Chris, he imparts quite a lot of information, but weaving it smoothly into the story rather than dumping it randomly onto the reader. Helton’s writing style is relaxed and easy – it gives that effortless feeling that probably suggests a lot of work went into it. An entertaining read – this is my first introduction to Peter Helton’s books, but I look forward to getting to know both him and Chris Honeysett better.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Severn House.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

96 thoughts on “Indelible (A Chris Honeysett Mystery) by Peter Helton

  1. FictionFan – Oooh, a new-to-me author to try! I do like sleuths who seem believable, and I he sounds like one of them. And although I am absolutely not sophisticated about art, I find it interesting. Nice to know too that the story flows well. May have to wedge this one into the TBR…

    • It seems he’s written quite a few books though I’d never heard of him before – very enjoyable. We need a ‘category’ to put these kind of books in though – not quite cosy, not quite gritty…hmm!

  2. This sounds excellent – a good, old fashioned mystery with great-sounding characters and an interesting ‘world’ as the backdrop. Anything with strange symbols and wild naked men is right up my street 😉

    • Sometimes I like these lighter reads – don’t require so much effort to read and this one was very entertaining. After I’d written the review, I spotted his website and he is indeed a painter as well as a writer….

      • Yes, he was kind of crusty, but I liked him. Watching his replacement. I enjoy British mysteries like this because they go way beyond with literary quotes and all.

        • Ah, now I love Lewis! I always preferred him to Morse when he was his sidekick, and now I like both Lewis and his new sidekick – whose name totally escapes me for the moment. Yes, it’s a high quality series, that one. Did you ever watch Waking the Dead? Bit darker, but I love the casting – especially Trevor Eve (yum!).

  3. The setting sounds really fun. I’ve always had a soft spot for the regular-guy-doing-a-little-sleuthing thing. As big a fan as I am of Sherlock, I never liked how the reader couldn’t play along much of the time. So often, the mystery was solved by things that hadn’t been shared with the reader, or by clues that needed to be seen in order to be understood.

    I’ve been thinking of putting together a formal “to be read” list. Sometimes when I mentally add books that I’ve seen around various review sites, I have a hard time remembering them when I finally get a little book money. This one sounds fantastic for my reading over winter break!

    • Yes, I like it so long as they don’t turn into superheroes half-way through! But in this one he stays fun and believable all the way… not much mystery solving though, but that didn’t spoil the enjoyment.

      Oh yes, you should! Why should I suffer alone? 😉 I give you fair warning though that when I started to keep a note of all the books I wanted to read the list grew exponentially for my first year of blogging. I’m being much tougher now, but it’s still not reducing much… cloning is the only answer!

  4. Although the discussion about artists and producing art sounds interesting, I’m not sure I’d choose this one over some of the more meaty reads on my list. Hmmm. Most likely depends on how many books I get through during our stay in the mountains next week.

    • I’m not sure she did! In fact, none of them seemed to be making much of a living at all…except the pompous one. New to me too, but I’d happily read more – nice light but good quality entertainment… 🙂

  5. Men running around naked in the woods, someone secretly improving paintings, and strange symbols being carved into trees…. If I were in that situation, I’m not sure if I would laugh or be completely scared (obviously this is before the murder).

  6. Sounds really fun, and like a book I would enjoy. “Art” is very strange, having been around a large metal sculptor for years. And so are artists.

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