The Tattooed Muse

Tattooed MuseIn The Tattooed Muse, a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, a writer’s group goes haywire when one of its members, a struggling, skateboarding novelist, attempts murder and then commits suicide.

His master-of-the-universe best friend Michael, who drives a Porsche and owns a country house, has been lending members of the group money, and they begin to wonder if he’s drawing their attention away from some behind-the-scenes activities.

From Reviewing the Evidence:

A group of 6 twenty-somethings are all members of a San Francisco writers group which meets once a week, with the rather brutal rule that each member must read the new pages written at least every two weeks. The group meets in the apartment of Betsy Austin, a very wealthy Smith graduate and full time writer. Martin Anderson is a part-time dishwasher and sells blood to be able to keep writing. Michael Boon is a lawyer, and rich. Kevin, the medical student, seems to be going through a psychotic period but the others are reluctant to ask him to leave. Betsy describes Kevin as “…Billy Bob Thornton creepy.” Cindy Wang, a Harvard graduate, is working as a stripper in order to keep writing. The sixth member of the group is Virginia Winston, a very beautiful woman.

Martin sells his novel “The Burning Bush” and quits his job as a dishwasher. The book is a great success and within a few months, he no longer has to scrabble for money but can buy an expensive condominium whose windows overlook the Coit Tower. Michael, an old school chum, now Anderson.s manager, is a member of a prestigious Jewish law firm, whose senior partner gives Boon a very important assignment. Michael must have someone tell Anderson that he was adopted as a child and is the heir to a very large fortune. Boon’s boss sends Paul Kline, Jewish ex-marine intellectual P.I., son of Dachau survivors, to inform Martin that he is really the son of a prominent San Francisco family.

Things start getting truly weird after that. Anderson starts losing periods of time. He has a nightmare about a small boy being abandoned at the Coit Tower by a woman in a polka-dotted dress. He sees this woman, or thinks he does. He can no longer distinguish reality from fiction. The San Francisco of Vertigo and Dark Passage once again deploys its power “to cloud men’s minds.”

If you like thrillers that are really twisty and twisted, this is ideal. Harrington uses many literary allusions in his work, but the one he never uses would best characterize THE TATTOOED MUSE: “Things are seldom what they seem.”

“The Tattooed Muse” by Kent Harrington on Ganxy