The Painter could be called a revenge story, except that the crime which starts it off is not really a personal one. Jim, on his way to his favorite fishing spot, encounters a man beating a horse (Dostoevsky and Nietzsche fans will probably enjoy the nod). Jim doesn’t know the man, but is so overcome with rage that he returns later that night and kills him, setting in motion a series of events that will profoundly alter his life.
This may not feel like a universal experience, but if you think about it, the parallels between Jim’s story and your own might surprise you. Have you ever had a feeling of anger or jealousy that you just couldn’t shake? Have you ever found yourself unable to escape your past, either with others or with yourself? In The Painter, Peter Heller illustrates these experiences eloquently and with dead-on accuracy. He also refuses to let the pace of the story slow, and the result is that The Painter becomes something of a quasi-spiritual-rural-literary thriller, a book that’s hard to put down.
— Sam, Village Books, Bellingham, WA