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The Brush-Off: A Murray Whelan Mystery

Maloney, Shane

333 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1611458080 / ISBN 13: 9781611458084
Published by Arcade Publishing, 2014
Used Condition: Good
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Title: The Brush-Off: A Murray Whelan Mystery

Publisher: Arcade Publishing

Publication Date: 2014

Book Condition:Good

Edition: Reprint.

About this title


Murray Whelan is the political advisor to the newly appointed minister of culture, Angelo ( Tell me, Murray, what are the Arts?”) Agnelli, and he’s hanging on to his job by his toenails. On his first day, the disgruntled young artist Marcus Taylor is found dead, drowned in the ornamental moat outside the National Gallery. The police rule it a suicide, or perhaps an accident, but Murray is not so sure. Besides, this ugly incident occurred on Agnelli’s watch, so the heat is on. A born detective despite himself, Murray digs, and the deeper he goes, the more puzzling the mystery becomes. Who is this other painter, Victor Szabo, also dead, unknown in his lifetime and now the darling of the art world, with works fetching crazy prices funded in part by the government? And what about suave businessman and art maven Lloyd Eastlake, who is whispering financial sweet nothings in Angelo Agnelli’s ear?

A first-rate, funny, tightly plotted thriller with the verve of Get Shorty and Striptease, The Brush-Off brings us a Down Under we hardly knew: with political scamming and art fraud, ruthless culture vultures, silky bureaucrats, and scheming self-made millionaires all brought together by a streetwise, sharp-tongued political advisor who has a knack for stumbling onto murder. His crash course in culture teaches him one thing for certain: when you dabble with death, there’s nothing abstract about a loaded gun.

Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade, Yucca, and Good Books imprints, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in fiction novels, novellas, political and medical thrillers, comedy, satire, historical fiction, romance, erotic and love stories, mystery, classic literature, folklore and mythology, literary classics including Shakespeare, Dumas, Wilde, Cather, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


Murray Whelan, a political advisor to the Australian Minister of the Arts, tries to protect his boss from scandal and save his own skin in Shane Maloney's witty mystery about intrigue in the art world of Melbourne, Australia. When a disgruntled artist is found dead in the moat surrounding the public arts building, Murray Whelan investigates the case to make sure that there will be no negative political impact on his boss. In the process, he stumbles upon widespread misuse of government funds, begins to suspect a forgery scam, and tangles with two beautiful women. Meanwhile, Whelan's childhood nemesis lurks menacingly on the edge of the action. People start dropping like flies.

"I might not know much about art," says Whelan, summarizing his number one job skill, "but I've been a member of the Labor Party long enough to recognize the aroma of a rodent when it wafts my way." Whelan's knack for the apt turn of phrase adds a special charm to this book. When he meets a wealthy patron of the arts, he notes that the man resembles "a cross between Aristotle Onassis and a walnut."

In some thrillers, the hero is simply put in harm's way. In this one, Shane Maloney goes the extra mile and puts the hero in a ridiculous situation, then puts him in harm's way. At one point, our beleaguered hero is trapped in a warehouse full of puppets and the only method of escape he sees is to don an enormous octopus costume with stilts and sidle towards a high window. Of course, he falls, hurts his ear, and has to endure Van Gogh jokes for the rest of the adventure. "The trick with stilts, in case you ever need to know," Murray Whelan advises, "is to stay in motion. Much like a bicycle. Or politics. Stand still and you're stuffed. Keep moving or you take a dive." That's sound advice. This book has wit, an amiable protagonist, and velocity. What's not to like? --Jill Marquis

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