Author: Douglas Ostling
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Portrait of Deadly Excess is a work of literary suspense tracing a volatile investigator's descent into a stark world of ulterior motives and twisted obsessions not all of which are his own. At the center of the action is Van Hazard a freelance insurance investigator specializing in claims involving lost and stolen art. Hazard, a former NYPD detective and an established artist in his own right, is a man at war with himself and a flawed world he largely disproves of. Half white, half black, refusing to deny one part of himself in order to lose himself in the other, Hazard is the consummate outsider with equal claim to two different worlds but at home in neither one. He's a stylish, resourceful loner whose wry wit and warped sense of humor almost obscures the haunted avenger within. Hazard is shaken when he loses two close friends to a mysterious fire he was too late on the scene to prevent. He's intrigued, however, by the tale told by the lone survivor a stranger he pulled from the flames that a picture of a dead man came to life and committed murder. Hazard puts his career and reputation on the line to unravel the case and discover the truth, and soon descends into an ever-shifting landscape of duplicity and deception as he struggles to come to terms with a famous painter's quest to cheat death and justice with his art. Portrait of Deadly Excess is a brooding tale in which the immovable object of a formidable, sometimes reckless investigator determined to settle the books on a string of bizarre murders is matched against the irresistible force of a celebrated artist intoxicated with the strange power of his art. Hazard's character is an edgy cross between Chandler's resourceful Philip Marlowe and Conrad's haunted Kurtz, and is in relentless pursuit of a charismatic painter equal parts Warhol, Faust, and Dorian Gray obsessed with giving new meaning to achieving immortality through one's art.