Killing for Art

Jonathan Santlofer’s newest thriller, THE KILLING ART, is in stores right now. And as he tells Newsday, it’s got a unique gimmick that other mystery novels don’t have: original artwork to accompany the book:

Long Island topography is a prominent motif in “clue paintings” created specifically for the new book by author and artist Santlofer, 58, whose works are in collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The black-and-white illustrations serve up hints for McKinnon (and Santlofer’s readers) to decipher about a series of murders and the slashings of Abstract Expressionist paintings. The elements in these collaged canvases foretell impending crimes, their cryptic quotes from pop culture and art history echoing Santlofer’s other paintings, such as those on view through Nov. 12 at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea.

“When I started the novel, the paintings were made by the villain,” said Santlofer, who kicks off the promotional tour for this final installment of his Kate McKinnon trilogy (also including “The Death Artist” and “Color Blind”) at 8 p.m. Saturday with a reading at BookHampton in East Hampton. “I never thought for a moment they had anything to do with my art, but then I realized they did.”

Santlofer and his publisher, HarperCollins, offer up yet another prize for discerning readers of the book:

With this latest book, Santlofer extends his penchant for reinvention to his audience. In an online sweepstakes,fans could win one of his original clue paintings. “I came up with the idea,” says Santlofer, “because I wanted to turn my readers into art collectors somehow.”

He might well succeed — I know the clue paintings added a nice touch to the book, which was a lot of fun to read.