I’m excited to be part of the Clink Street Blogival for the second year running, this year with a review of The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne.
Genre: Contemporary fiction, crime thriller, comedy
Patrick Phelan is an ageing artist who has never made it big but who somehow manages to live on air in a North London suburb.
When not running art classes for amateurs, Patrick wrestles in the shed at the bottom of his garden with his life’s work: a series of visionary canvases of The Seven Seals.
When his wheeler-dealer son Marty turns up with a commission from a rich client for some copies of paintings by modern masters, Phelan reluctantly agrees; it means money for his ex-wife Moira. However the deal with Marty is, typically, not what it seems.
What follows is a complex chain of events involving fakery, fraud, kidnapping, murder, the Russian Mafia and a cast of dubious art world characters. A contemporary spin on Joyce Cary’s classic satire The Horse’s Mouth, The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne is a crime thriller-cum-comic-fable that poses the serious question: where does art go from here?
Art, fraud, and a whole host of characters collide in this clever and witty crime caper.
Patrick Phelan, an artist and art teacher, is commissioned by his son, Marty, to reproduce some modern masters’ paintings for rich clients. However, the devious son is not being entirely honest with his father so what follows is a crime caper involving a whole cast of less-than-model citizens…
The writing was smooth and the humour dry. The plot was well-crafted and the characters, despite sometimes being larger-than-life, were well drawn and relatable. The writing drew you into the art lesson or the manipulative interactions between father and son in such a way that you didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or wring some of the characters’ necks for stupidity/ naivety/ selfishness.
*Thank you to Clink Street Publishing for my free review copy.
About the Author
Currently living in Hampstead, North London, Laura Gascoigne has worked as an art journalist for over twenty years, editing Artists & Illustrators (1994-1999) before going freelance. Laura was born in Cairo in 1950, the daughter of a bookseller and an Italian teacher, and grew up in Brussels and Cambridge before studying Classics at Oxford University. Her sister is the writer Marina Warner. Surrounded as a child by the paintings her father collected, she has always had a passion for art and when not writing about it, she paints.