Revenge is barren of itself: it is the dreadful food it feeds on; its delight is murder, and its end is despair. – Friedrich Schiller
Someone has robbed Max Lancaster of his Muse, in a most brutal and permanent way. Young Elena Genovese, ballerina and the inspiration for some of Max’s most brilliant and celebrated work, was found murdered. And Max Lancaster, as it turns out, is the prime suspect in her death.
Why wouldn’t he be, after all? Max is single, a bit of a loner, is largely irresponsible and perhaps mildly eccentric, and is a man who has spent hours upon hours obsessing over capturing the grace and form of a sixteen-year-old girl on canvas. His art is as close to proof of an open love letter as one could get, using color and images rather than words to express the awe and admiration he has for the beauty of and dedication to her craft. It is suspect at best, proof of his fascination with the girl at worst; not to mention the fact he has no alibi, and is hiding from a secret and tortured past that has come back to haunt him, a past—and now a present—in which nearly everyone, including Max himself, has questioned his sanity. But not everyone believes Max is capable of cold-blooded murder.
Sumner Ellison is a forensic artist who has been assigned the job of capturing a rendering of a young man who was seen with Elena just before her death. Sumner has also been assigned the job of engaging Max in an effort to draw him out and to, hopefully, lure the man into a false sense of security that will cause him to err into confession. But the more time they spend together, and it doesn’t take long as there is already a small piece history between them, the more Sumner becomes convinced, in spite of his own growing fears, that Max is innocent. Proving it, however, may be next to impossible, especially when all the damning evidence seems to prove otherwise.
Fugitive Color is a story of crime and confession, served up in a catch-me-if-you-can fashion. It becomes evident fairly early on who the true perpetrator is, but half the fun of that is then watching, waiting, and wondering when everyone else is going to catch up to what is so evident to the reader.
As Max begins to psychologically unravel to the point that he begins to question his own innocence, as his art begins to morph into something exceedingly disturbing, and as Sumner’s belief in Max’s innocence is tested over and over again by what seems to be overwhelming evidence to the man’s guilt, the tenuous grip on their budding relationship falters and fails. It becomes impossible for Sumner to fight against the will of a man who has already condemned himself to a fate that circumstance seems determined to deliver. But it’s only a matter of time before the true killer prepares to strike again, and this time it’s Max who will be the victim.
This was a fast paced read, one I made it through in just a matter of a few hours, and I thought it was time well spent. I might have liked to have more of an opportunity to see the relationship between Max and Sumner develop, but I liked what I got, which also counts for me. And I’m just going to say that I’ve learnt not to be a huge stickler on editing issues, but I will also say that there were a few instances in this book where characters were referenced by the wrong name in a scene, so if those sorts of things bother you, and let’s face it, there’s nothing right about being pulled out of a story so you can try to figure out who should be where and when, just be forewarned it’s there.