"An Artful Corpse" By Helen A. Harrison: Review/Giveaway

 Review by Terrance McArthur

 Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and links to purchase it.

1967, New York City: a time of music, art, sexuality, protest, and...murder. 

Helen A. Harrison’s An Artful Corpse (an Art of Murder Mystery) brings that era to life with a killing that never happened: Thomas Hart Benton, a controversial artist of Depression-Era murals, died in his Missouri studio in 1975, not at the Art Students League in NYC in 1967. Mind you, it could have happened because he was alcoholic, abrasive, abusive, and not easy to like.  

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Image Source Poisoned Pen Press
TJ Fitzgerald is a part-time student at the League and a full-time Criminal Justice student. His Irish-American police captain father and his Hispanic-American Detective Inspector mother both work for the NYPD. When Benton is murdered and one of the prime suspects disappears, TJ and Ellen, an art classmate who works across the street from the League at the Automat making change, join together to seek answers. 

Their search takes them to anti-Vietnam War protests, folk music at The Bitter End, Max’s Kansas City, and The Factory, rubbing shoulders with Arlo Guthrie, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Theo Bikel, and Pete Seeger. They talk to groups that help draft evaders get to Canada, deal with LGBT culture before the Stonewall Riots, and explore many parts of the Island of Manhattan. 

Whodunnit? The gay art assistant whose draft number was up? The Russian instructor at the League who clashed with Benton? Could it be Andy Warhol? How about the anti-male feminist from Warhol’s group (the one who would shoot Warhol in 1968)? Many suspects, many motives. 

Harrison attended the Art Students League, she performed at The Bitter End, and she wrote books on Jackson Pollack who was a student of Thomas Hart Benton. This third volume in the “Art of Murder” trilogy, after An Exquisite Corpse and An Accidental Corpse, is packed with information on the people and culture of the era. It feels like an art-fully guided tour of the Sixties. Her playing with the past and rewriting history makes for engrossing entertainment that sends the reader on a quest to the library or the Internet for more information on the real people involved with her invented characters. As a newly-retired librarian, I encourage you to quest away!  

To enter to win a copy of An Artful Corpse, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "artful,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 17, 2021. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. BE AWARE THAT DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS THERE MAY BE A DELAY IN SHIPPING THE WINNING BOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode goes up next week.

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is newly retired as a Librarian in Fresno County, California. He is also a storyteller, puppeteer, magician, and maker of pine needle baskets. On top of that he writes stories that range from rhymed children's tales to splatterpunk horror. He's an odd bird, but he's nice to have around.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I lived through that time period. Remember
    many of these names and places. Would be
    fun to relive my misspent youth. :-)

  2. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  3. Many thanks for your generous words, Terrance. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!

  4. This looks like a mystery that I would enjoy reading.

  5. This book looks like a colorful and enjoyable read.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  6. This sounds very interesting and I love to cover. Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  7. Thanks for the opportunity! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com


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