Tim Parks continues with the Mimi (Massimina) subject in Painting Death (Alef Publishing, 2017). Our protagonist is Morris Duckworth, of course…
Events that take place in Italy surround Mimi’s family because after Mimi was murdered, Morris marries to her older sister. Cara Massimina (Kanat Books, 2008) is the first book of the trilogy. The sequel is Mimi’s Ghost (Kanat Books, 2010). Painting Death is the final book of the series.
English teacher Morris, who has committed seven murders, remained at large, and inherited a fortune later on, wants to hold a painting exhibition with the subject of ‘murder’, probably out of respect to his victims. This exhibition becomes an obsession. Morris, the sponsor of the event, also wants to be the curator of the exhibition; however, he runs into trouble almost in every step of the way. Secret organizations, family scandals, Morris’ past full of secrets, murders become involved.
In the first part of the novel, Parks messes and complicates events as much as possible. The reader is confused, so is Morris, the narrator. The first part is a narrative that drifts completely into the unknown through Morris’ words. In the second part, Morris is now questioning the events. Questioning means disclosure and clarifying of events. There’s no mistake in the diagnosis. The first part is a riddle where codes, clues are revealed; the second part can be likened to step-by-step solving of the riddle.
In the second chapter, Morris tries to solve his own puzzle. Because he’s old now, and when he gets too excited, he suffers hourly memory loss. He doesn’t remember anything after the events. The people, who were there during the incident, give evasive answers to Morris’ questions, they do not help because the people in the crime scene are afraid of being involved, being blamed by being a partner in crime, or being accused.
There is no need to read the previous two novels in order to understand Painting Death. That’s probably why Parks didn’t give the trilogy a special title. Each of the novels starts and ends as a stand-alone. In other words, each novel has its own integrity. The characters are the same but the events are different, in all three novels. This is what makes the trilogy attractive. If you get caught up in Parks’ style, language, expression; if you’re interested in the adventures of Morris, you probably end up reading the entire trilogy. Teacher Morris’ endless love for Mimi, how he became rich, how he had to commit murders full of intrigue, his talk at his victims after the murders… He manages to arouse curiosity with the psychological elements the books carry.
Parks is a knowledgeable, intelligent, and talented novelist. He manages to convince his reader. In the Mimi trilogy, the narrative, the order, the intertwining of events evoke the feeling of a crime novel. More of a detective novel than crime would be a more accurate characterization. But Parks’ philosophy and form of novel make the trilogy an unusual detective novel. Painting Death turns into a study about European history, art, society, and people.
Library of the Author
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Basil and Josephine Stories, Can Publications
– Hüseyin Aziz Akyürek, İstihbarat Savaşları, Kronik Books
– Mustafa Nezihi Pesen, Benden Önce Ölme, Ketebe Publications
– Eray Sarıçam, Ömrüm Yettiğince Savaş, Ebabil Publications