Friday, June 13, 2014

Peter Heller Bristles With The Painter

The Painter by Peter Heller
When celebrated artist Jim Stregner abandons his home in Santa Fe for a fresh start in the valleys of Colorado, he pins his hopes to the notion that his love for painting and fishing will be enough to conquer alcoholism, a gambling addiction, and a predilection for violence. For the most part, they will.

With the support of 28-year-old Sofia, who agrees to model for his latest work — An Ocean Of Women — he believes he might have a chance. He came to Colorado only four months ago, another chance to put a past he could never escape behind him.

His marriage fell apart after the loss of their daughter. He will never get over it. He blames himself for not being able to protect her despite serving prison time for beating a man who once leered at her. In fairness, the man did more than that. He practically taunted Stregner into action.

Jim Strengner is a reluctant and remorseful hero. 

When he keeps to himself, Stregner is genuinely likable. He has a sense of humor, even if it leans dry. Affable might even be the right word when he isn't counting his losses. He paints, fishes, and makes every effort to move on with a life he never wanted. Most would say he is wildly successful at it.

On the surface, he is exactly what most people want him to be. He is a reclusive and somewhat renegade artist who paints well outside the mainstream. His work is striking in character because he is unafraid to paint what he feels — dark and haunting works with layers of meaning.

Fly Fishing Colorado
His life might have continued on that way had it not been for a random roadside encounter with Del Siminoe. But when Stregner sees Siminoe whipping a horse into submission, he can't help himself. Stregner steps forward to stop it and the blind rage he keeps otherwise bottled up escapes.

The Painter is a profile of a gentle, introspective soul with a dark side that can only be drawn out through provocation. He doesn't mean to do it, but he kills Siminoe on the road and attempts to cover up the crime. In doing so, Stregner finds both allies and adversaries as he attempts to find peace again.

As law enforcement closes in with their investigation into the murder, other interested parties make it known that justice is much more likely to be dispensed in the wilderness than in a courtroom. On his side are a handful of people who would do almost anything to protect him from another prison sentence.

A few more graphs about author and adventure writer Peter Heller. 

Peter Heller
The Painter is the perfect follow up to The Dog Stars in that it brings the work of Peter Heller into a contemporary setting as opposed to the experimental post-pandemic world that encompassed his debut. While the present day setting keeps everything simpler for Heller, he manages to adapt his newest character portrait into a superbly written cross-genre near-thriller.

Heller once again uses nature to ground his unassuming character, making him even more likable despite his flaws but otherwise manages to sketch someone who is cast headlong into the infinite grayness of wrong and right. In his debut, Heller walked a similar path with the cause being the dramatic breakdown of civilization. This time, the cause is one man's ability to demonstrate self-restraint against a civilization that allows evil to co-exist within its borders.

The Painter By Peter Heller Frames 9.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While some readers might be feeling amiss by the ending, most will discover a richly considered story about a killer who deserves our sympathy for wanting to do the right thing and is ceremoniously punished for it with the wrong outcome. When combined with being naturally fallible and debilitatingly remorseful, Stregner becomes a contemporary anti-hero who has hoped for a life that has become increasingly rare and out of reach.

The Painter: A novel by Peter Heller is available on Amazon. You can also find the download available on iBooks or as an audiobook on iTunes. The novel is narrated by Mark Deakins, who also helped bring Heller's debut protagonist to life in The Dog Stars. This time, Deakins manages to draw out a much more confident though self-loathing protagonist within The Painter. The Painter by Peter Heller is also available through Barnes & Noble.
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