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Personal Effects: Dark Art Hardcover – June 9, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312383827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312383824
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hutchins, author of the audiobook podcast trilogy 7th Son, makes his print debut with the stellar first of an interactive supernatural thriller series. Zach Taylor, an art therapist, must evaluate Martin Grace, a blind audio engineer suspected of a dozen homicides, to determine whether Martin is mentally competent to stand trial for the murder of hip-hop singer Tanya Gold, whose body was torn literally limb from limb. Martin claims he's an unwitting psychic sniper, foreseeing crimes actually committed by a Russian demon or Dark Man. One of his possible earlier victims was Martin's psychiatrist, Sophronia Poole, the girlfriend of Zack's dad, William V. Taylor, the New York City DA seeking to convict Martin. Weisman, an alternative reality game whiz, is responsible for the items inside the book's front pocket—a psychiatric report, family photos, death and birth certificates, etc.—that allow the reader to follow a multimedia trail of clues. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Hutchins, author of the audiobook podcast trilogy 7th Son, makes his print debut with the stellar first of an interactive supernatural thriller series.  Zach Taylor, an art therapist, must evaluate Martin Grace, a blind audio engineer suspected of a dozen homicides, to determine whether Martin is mentally competent to stand trial for the murder of hip-hop singer Tanya Gold, whose body was “torn literally limb from limb.”  Martin claims he’s an “unwitting psychic sniper,” fore-seeing crimes actually committed by a Russian demon or “Dark Man.”  One of his possible earlier victims was Martin’s psychiatrist, Sophronia Poole, the girlfriend of Zack’s dad, William V. Taylor, the New York City DA seeking to convict Martin.  Weisman, an alternative reality game whiz, is responsible for the items inside the book’s front pocket—a psychiatric report, family photos, death and birth certificates, etc.—that allow the reader to follow a multimedia trail of clues."  --Starred Publishers Weekly (June)

"Start with an eerie setting. Add equal parts House, CSI, andThe X-Files. Place yourself at the side of an accidental detective embroiled in a complex web of madness, revenge, betrayal, and secret identities. Then light some dynamite under the box most novels live in and watch the pieces land outside the pages—in art, on websites, in e-mails, and in phone numbers that give you answers when you call. This is the future of storytelling, and it’s a thrilling ride." --Anthony E. Zuiker, Creator/Executive Producer of the CSI: Franchise

"Jordan Weisman is once again the vanguard of that new form of narrative—Transmedia Storytelling. The enigmatic tapestry of characters and events slowly slips off the page, taking the reader with it into a mosaic of facts and clues that compel us to know the truth behind the murders of the accused: Martin Grace. So compelling is the journey between these precisely crafted symbiotic worlds, the reader may scarcely recognize their own transformation from passive to active, as they pick up where the text subsides and become the protagonist." --Gore Verbinski, Director

"The world may be black to Martin Grace, but he can peer deep into your soul, find where your fears slither, and make them sway like a snake charmer. Personal Effects is a rocking genre-mash that mixes mystery with psychodrama and serves it up in a high-bandwidth torrent of terror." --Scott Sigler, author of Infected and the hit podcast novel Earthcore

"J.C. Hutchins delivers another mind-ripping story that shakes the foundations of reality. In the creation of Martin Grace he offers a richly complicated catalyst for events that keeps writhing the reader on a deadly twisted hook that won't let go. Don't worry about the lap bar. It won't save you from screaming on this ride." --Patrick Lussier, director of White Noise 2, Dracula 2000, and editor of the Scream trilogy, Halloween: H20, The Eye, and Red Eye

 "Personal Effects: Dark Art was impossible to put down and almost as hard to pin down. A twisted descent into the mind of a serial killer ... a supernatural thriller about a frightening and unfathomable evil that's as old as time ... a horrific tale of dark, unearthly secrets that bind ... and kill.  "Zach Taylor is assigned to the mysterious case of psychiatric patient Martin Grace -- a suspected serial killer with an airtight alibi for the murder he's accused of committing. Zach's search for the truth leads him, and the people he loves, into a terrifying world of dark secrets an ancient evil that threatens to consume them all. Terrifying, steeped in dread and populated with vibrant and complex characters, Personal Effects: Dark Art plunges you into a hidden world of supernatural intrigue.  It's a journey you won't soon forget." --Jeffrey Reddick, writer of Final Destination
 

More About the Author

J.C. Hutchins crafts transmedia narratives, screenplays and novels for such entertainment companies as A&E, Cinemax, Discovery, St. Martin's Press, Smith & Tinker and Leviathan Games. He has been profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR's Weekend Edition, ABC Radio and the BBC.

J.C. began his career as a "new media novelist," using emerging storytelling strategies such as podcasting, social media and crowdsourcing to create and distribute his acclaimed 7th Son thriller novels.

His novel Personal Effects: Dark Art (co-written with digital storytelling pioneer and game designer Jordan Weisman) featured online and physical transmedia elements that blurred the reader's role from passive consumer to active participant. Personal Effects is presently in development as a Starz TV series, with Gore Verbinski executive producing.

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Customer Reviews

You can just read this book, and you will get an enjoyable story.
Beth Case
Put this book on your summer reading list ... no, buy this book now, and start reading it as soon as arrives!
Amazon Customer
Get "Personal Effects: Dark Art" for the great story J.C. Hutchins has crafted.
Matthew Wayne Selznick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Lafferty on June 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a chance to read an advanced copy of Personal Effects: Dark Art. This novel succeeds admirably in being creepy and scary, but the book does much more than that. For one, it paints the main characters, especially the tightly knit support system of the protagonist, in a realistic and sympathetic light. You care about these people, you want to be their friends. The action is detailed and, at times, gruesome, the kind that makes you want to cover one eye while the other eye keeps reading because you just can't stop.

The plot and characterization doesn't stop with the novel, though. The personal effects that come with the book allow you to learn more about the mysteries inside, and if you follow the websites and phone numbers, you will get more information about the goings on of the novel than the characters themselves got.

This book grabbed me, pulled me in, and didn't let go. Hutchins' narrative voice is fun to read; he makes you feel like you're sliding effortlessly into the plot. Expect more awesome from this author in the future. For now, buy this book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha Smith on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Probably the best book I've read in the horror genre in a long time. Personal Effects: Dark Art combines the classic elements of horror, thriller and dark plot with the "edge of your seat" gripping "page-turning" experience you'd get from a feature film.

What I love most about Personal Effects is that it's not JUST words on a page, it's an experience. The book is set up to give the reader visual clues, concepts and personality through the pictures and items within the novel. Even the way the text is set on the page speaks volumes to the mood, tone and feel of this book. This is a full immersion experience. If you're one of those folks who can't sit through a novel - this is the one to try.

From page one I was sucked into the story, the characters and the mystery. And I think you will be too.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Wayne Selznick on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
J.C. Hutchins (7th Son: Descent) and Jordan Weisman (Cathy's Ring) have created a fascinating book that is both reading experience and alternate reality game.

"Personal Effects: Dark Art" is, first and foremost, an excellent novel by J.C. Hutchins. The story follows a young art therapist, Zach Taylor, whose chosen career is informed by personal tragedy and a temptation to embrace the darker, self-destructive path he once walked.

He works in the most bizarre, twisted and just plain contra-healing mental health facility in fiction since Gotham City's Arkham Asylum: Brinkvale Psychiatric Hospital, an establishment built on the site of an old brownstone quarry. Yes, it's a place where every floor after the first is a basement -- the entire thing is underground. The metaphor of "digging" into the subconscious is obvious, and the literary knife twist of a hospital with no windows is delightfully creepy.

Taylor's patient is a serial killer. The problem for an art therapist is that Martin Grace is blind. How can you treat someone with visual arts if they can't even see? And how did a blind man kill all those people?

The pressure to come to some conclusion about Grace's ability to stand trial is heavy, and it comes from sources both professional and personal. The slow bleed of the case into Taylor's own past drives the story from creepy psychological thriller into territory that is decidedly more unnerving.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lynette Young on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not only will what's between the covers of this novel change how you feel about the dark, it will change how you want to be entertained. No longer a passive participant in the story, you now become part of the story with the realistic 'personal effects', websites, phone numbers and other great interactive surprises. On it's own the book tells a powerful, unreal but believable story that pulls you in from the very first page, but coupled with the included clues and breadcrumb trails to follow, the story leaps out of the page and vibrates with it's own deadly pulse.

What I love about this story is that there are so many levels to the plot, so many clues to pick up each time you read it, flip through the personal effects, or visit a website connected with the novel. This is the type of book you will want to read over and over just to rediscover the brilliant storytelling on every page.

Writers from this point on will have to live up to the high standards J.C. Hutchins has now put forth. The game has changed. We wanted more, and he delivered.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James J. Melzer on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Recently, I read something that I can honestly say scared the crap out of me. It's not often that a novel can evoke such a primal emotion as fear. In fact, the only other novel I can remember reading that did so was The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. The time has come once again though for you and I to be afraid of the dark. The reason? Personal Effects: Dark Art by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman.

The story follows Zach Taylor, a gifted art therapist who is employed at Brinkvale Psychiatric Hospital. Otherwise known as `The Brink.' Zach has a way of reaching his patients through art therapy. Allowing them to express themselves to the point where they open up to him so the healing can begin. When a new patient is admitted though, Zach is forced to reevaluate everything his knows about his talents...and his past.

Enter Martin Grace. An alleged serial killer who is under suspicion for 12 murders and is admitted to The Brink for psychiatric treatment to see if he's fit to stand trial. The only problem is, Martin Grace is blind, so how could he have killed 12 people? Zach is faced with the challenge of unraveling the mystery of Martin Grace and in doing so is plunged into a world so dark, so terrifying, that it not only forces him to question everything he knew to be true, but also forces him to face The Dark Man. A villain so evil that you'd swear that it was the spawn of Satan himself.

Reading Personal Effects: Dark Art was not only a treat (as a lifelong horror fan, I am always looking for the next best scare) but it was also a mind bending experience. Hutchins has a way of grabbing you head first and pulling you in to the darkness to the point where you forget everything that is going on around you.
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