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The Art of Killing – murder and erotica in crime fiction release


Christopher Clarke’s The Art of Killing takes readers to the normally quiet, but dysfunctional suburban streets of the city of Gloucester. 

With locals growing tired of the media frenzy whipped up over the past two years as a result of the activities of Tick-Tock — an anonymous graffiti artist who’s been using the city as his canvas — Detective Inspector Patrick Gutteridge becomes the only member of the force to link the contentious and shocking changes apparent in Tick-Tock’s more recent work as coming from someone with far more sinister intentions. Can DI Gutteridge and his partner DS Keaton decode the warping messages before they become reality, and in so doing, discover the identity of the artist turned killer?

Penned by an author who has successfully transferred his day job visualisation skills (working in SFX and creature FX on over sixty films) to bring his dark and shocking thriller and protagonists to life on the written page, The Art of Killing has to be one of the ‘must-read’ thrillers of 2023.

Plausible, shocking and unexpectedly erotic, the author delivers on all aspects of what makes a good thriller, whilst also encouraging the reader to look deeper into the psychology and fragility of us all. And the layering of the connections and backstories of his two detectives ensures readers are invested in their wellbeing as they investigate such a horrific case.

With a conclusion left sufficiently open for further literary outings of Gutteridge and Keaton, thrillers don’t get much better than The Art of Killing.


A chance discovery of something unimaginable will steer Detective Patrick Gutteridge’s life down a path littered with memories of his past, memories he’s spent a decade trying to forget. 

For two years, Gloucester’s provincial streets have glowed to the media interest gifted by the works of an anonymous graffiti artist — Tick-Tock. 

But the art is changing, distorting, each piece becoming more perverse and contentious than the last. Only DI Gutteridge sees a pattern forming which points to something far more sinister looming on the horizon. Can he decipher it in time to prevent the impending storm, or will the city be forced to wear the infamy of a series of events so shocking, it threatens to stain its streets forever? 

Who is the artist turned killer? What malevolent force drives them? And who can decode their warping message in time to stop the bloodshed? Only time will tell, but time, is fast running out!

The author says:

“The Art Of Killing is a dark book, an examination of the weaknesses inherent in the human condition, and the fragility of a developing mind.”

“Although the main focus of the novel is murder, there are themes of love, romance and the eroticism present in the human mind woven throughout the whole narrative to help give balance and relevance to what is a grim subject matter. The perversions of man are few, but the paths they can lead you down are many!”

Book reviewer and blog writer, Jackie’s Reading Corner says:

“Chris has this way of describing things vividly I found myself picturing some of the scenes, whether that be through the killer’s eyes or the detectives, it wasn’t just the scenes of the crimes but also outside of the characters working environments. The people, the emotions everything is there, Gutteridge has his own backstory which gradually comes out but I think there is even more that could be disclosed in a future books.

“A lot of crime fiction we have no idea who the killer is but this one is slightly different, the chapters throughout alternate between the investigation team trying to find out who the killer is, but with no DNA, or fingerprints left at the scenes it’s a difficult case to work, the crime scenes are gruesome even for the older detectives. The killers chapters cover why he is doing what he’s doing, initially he is meticulous and very clever, until things begin to unravel, which can lead to mistakes. What had led to the murders?, why did he kill who he killed? Who is he talking to? Dubbed by the press as The Spatchcock Killer, he is fighting the demons inside, but which is the strongest voice, the voice to kill or the conscience telling him it’s wrong?
The more I read the more engrossed I got, it’s difficult to say much more on this without giving the plot away. But I guarantee lovers of a good police procedural, serial killer thriller will be hooked completely by this one, and will be left wanting more. This could be the start of a good crime series. This is a book to buy now for all crime readers.”

T N Traynor for Chick Lit Café says:

“I can honestly say that this is the best crime thriller I have ever read. What’s more, it is easy to give you reasons why. Firstly, the prose, wow! In some places, I had to stop and reread passages again just to let the ingenious descriptions sink in. Secondly, the unforgettable characters—both protagonist and antagonist—were vibrantly brought to life. Lastly, Clarke’s masterful command of pacing and awareness of the reader’s needs means he deftly follows scenes of outright horror to blissful peace, giving the reader time to catch their breath and take in what they’ve just witnessed. Every page is infused with authenticity. In this suspenseful thriller, we discover a new crime-battling hero in DI Patrick Gutteridge, a tempered veteran of both life and the police force. The author takes us behind the hardened exterior of this life-worn cop and into the inner sanctuary of both his haven and his hopes. When we discover his past, we begin to fear for his future—lightning wouldn’t strike in the same place twice—would it?

“C R Clarke with his superb prose presents a plot crafted by unforgettable characters. The Art of Killing by C. R. Clarke is a gritty fast-paced page-turner and is a must-read novel for all crime fiction fans. It comes very highly recommended by Chick Lit Café.”

And with five-star praise from Amazon readers, reviews include:

“Firstly, I saw a quote on the cover of this book claiming it to be the best crime thriller the reviewer had ever read. My assumption was it was a bogus quote, but after reading it I might actually agree! It gets straight into it and doesn’t let up. The characters are so well fleshed out and their interaction believable. Some of my favourite chapters are with the web millionaire and his angelic trophy girlfriend, and the self-perpetuating conversations the killer was having creeped me out!. The moments of sexual tension and lust were an interesting addition too, a welcome distraction from the horror of the murders. The more I think back to write this review the more I want to read it all over again! Brilliant, and it seems to have been left open at the end for a sequel? I truly hope so as I’ll be first in line for a copy. All in all, well worth getting hold of a copy, I promise you won’t be disappointed. 10/10. Oh, and possibly the best crime thriller I’ve ever read.” – K Caffey

“This book is about Detective Patrick Gutteridge, his partner DS Jane Keaton and an artist turned serial killer.
I particularly loved the backstory to the key characters in the book and as a reader you really felt like you knew and understood them well. I can’t wait to find out more. Chris has a great way of describing the scenes and you can easily visualise them. The story kept me gripped throughout. I could not put this book down and can’t wait for the next one. I would highly recommend this book if you love crime novels.” – N A Rattray

“After having read The Puppet Tears, of the same Author, I had to read this. Just like the former, I couldn’t put this down and I completed it in two readings. Graphically erotic, brutal and with a good dash of emotion all swilling around, hoping there will be a sequel to this. I love her. At the least, I think his next one is out in January, can’t wait.” – SAM

Published by Matador, The Art of Killing is available in paperback (ISBN No: 978-1805140122) priced £8.99 and Kindle format (£3.99 or free via app) on Amazon at https://tinyurl.com/ywmfs88m and https://tinyurl.com/rjd53eb3
It is also available to purchase at Blackwell’s , WH Smith and Troubador Publishing

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