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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, R.I. Penny, a frustrated detective who is an academic and art historian, is introduced in Restless Souls by Ronnie Brown. Richard Hart, on the other hand, is a frustrated academic and detective. Can Penny outsmart Hart in this murder of conceptual art?
Restless Souls is an intriguing read that keeps you guessing until the very last page. It is a whodunit that draws on the author’s artistic background as well as academic research at the University of Sussex under the tutelage of Nigel Llewelyn, whose book The Art of Death served as an inspiration.
The author also lip-services the hard-boiled inflection and cliche of crime detective fiction by linking art theory, literary, and artistic allusions and concepts into the plot.
If you’re looking for a murder mystery that doesn’t follow a formula, this contemporary novel with its focus on characters is a must-read. Additionally, many will eagerly anticipate Penny and Hart’s subsequent sleuthing expeditions now that they have been introduced to one another.
Synopsis Of Restless Souls
‘Theory, whether wanted, asked for or needed, was what Penny did best. He had a theory for all things.’
Restless Souls plots the pathway of jaded art history lecturer R. I. Penny.
Upon reading about the death of actress Kate Considine, found dressed as Ophelia from Millais’s painting, Penny feels complicit. Indeed, for Penny, trouble is never far away – when a file left in his pigeonhole evidences fraud in the University, he hides it.
Bursting with swagger and vulnerability, Penny is questioned as a matter of routine by two detectives, Lucy Freeman and Richard Hart. But Penny is quickly convinced he can out sleuth Hart, and recruits an old friend Dove to help him solve the many mysteries laid out before him.
“At 16 I went to Art College and gained a place at Birmingham to study fashion and textiles. I was expelled. I worked for years in the chemical works, steel works and after redundancy, factories, the building trade and H.M. Dockyard in Portsmouth. At 27 I went back to school. A year later I was admitted to Portsmouth Poly to do a degree in historical studies.
“My wife Nashwa and I moved to Huddersfield where our daughter Emily was born. I became sole parent for Emily as Nashwa was poorly. While looking after Emily I won a bursary to study art history and design at Birmingham and went back to the same department. Emily slept through seminars. My wife went back to stay with her family in Oman and we followed. I took a job with the British Council as a ‘Cultural and Information Officer. (I worked in the Library) and from there I moved to teach and run the library at the Sultan’s School.
“Returning to the UK in 1986, I did a TEFL course and worked in the private sector for two years. I then taught at Chichester College of Technology, before returning again to Sussex University to do an MA in art history and critical theory. I taught in the mornings one year and studied in the afternoon and the following year reversed the procedure.
“I followed that with my DPhil, under the brilliant tutorship Nigel Llewelyn whose book The Art of Death was an inspiration. My own DPhil on representations of Suicide was published in 2001 as The Art of Suicide. My marriage broke around that time and I moved to Leeds to teach Art History. At Leeds I also studied and became a Teaching Fellow while running the master’s in art history.
“At 58 I resigned and became a gardener until I was 65. I worked in Leeds mainly but Ireland and France also. Then I moved back to the north-east and played, wrote and recorded music – in a hobbyist capacity.”
Find Restless Souls now:
Published by Cranthorpe Millner Publishers, Restless Souls (ISBN: 978-1-80378-055-9) is published on 24th January 2023 and is available in paperback and Kindle format.
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