Death on Canvas

The Jessie O'Bourne Art Mysteries Book 1

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
400 Pages
Reviewed on 05/24/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

The background of my character, Jessie O'bourne, is much like my own. Although I now live in Idaho, like Jessie, I was raised in rural Montana near the Yellowstone River in a rural area similar to the fictitious Sage Bluff. Like Jessie, I have painted professionally for years.

Besides taking part in book signings and talks as an author, I’ve been honored to have been a guest artist at several art museums and have been included in their permanent collection. The subject matter I prefer is wildlife and western.

I critique work for other artists throughout the year. It is a way of 'giving back' that is important. Writing is the same. In the writer's group we critique each other's novels. It is surprising how many correlations there are between my writing life and my art activities.

Currently, I am nearing the final chapters of the second Jessie O'Bourne art mystery, and look forward to visiting with the readers who are waiting for it to hit the market. I am so grateful for my readers.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite

Successful artist Jessie O’Bourne has returned home to judge a painting contest as well as to paint. She’s out early in the morning with her sassy orange tomcat, Jack, and sets about painting a landscape on her father’s property when she notices a patch of turquoise near the side of a haystack. When she goes closer to it to investigate, she’s horrified to discover a sneaker and a foot attaching to it. Both belong to an unconscious native girl lying between two haystacks. She quickly calls the police. The girl is in and out of consciousness, but is lucid enough to mutter that the police had done this to her. Jessie is shocked and becomes even more unsettled when one of the cops to arrive on the scene is none other than Sergeant Russell Bonham. Russell had been her dead brother, Kevin’s, best buddy and had once lived with them. Jessie blamed him for her brother’s suicide, and for being a no-show at her mother’s funeral, which followed in relatively quick succession after her brother’s death.

Death on Canvas by Mary Ann Cherry alternates between the present and the past – 1918 rural Montana, to be exact, where an unexpected tragedy occurs at the impoverished St. Benedict’s Mission School when the school’s teacher, Sister Mary, is murdered in the middle of the night, her murder witnessed by a young native boy. However, the murder of the good sister is only one of the mysteries that plagues the small school and haunts its descendants. There’s also the issue of several paintings that disappeared which had been painted by Thomas Moran, worth millions of dollars today.

Death on Canvas by Mary Ann Cherry is Book 1 of The Jessie O’Bourne art mysteries. A fascinating story that combines both historical intrigue and a modern-day mystery, it’s sure to be a treat for both mystery lovers as well as those readers with a passion for art. The author has crafted her characters well in that all are vividly and effectively portrayed and could easily be anyone’s next door neighbor or relative. She’s placed these characters in a setting that is both vivid and has almost a ‘grass roots’ feel to it, and then juxtaposed this with a backstory based on stolen art, a subject that has global reach. And Cherry’s effective portrayals don’t just stop at people. The territorial attitude of Jessie’s cat, Jack, and Arvid’s bruiser with slobber issues and a penchant for baloney, are also wonderfully portrayed and add the perfect touch of comic relief where needed. There’s plenty to like about Death on Canvas. It’s got intrigue, betrayal, and dirty little secrets galore. Time to put down the paint brush and get reading!

Tracy Slowiak

In a great new murder mystery by author Mary Ann Cherry, Death on Canvas, the first book in The Jessie O'Bourne Art Mysteries Series, readers will be treated to an intriguing story that will truly keep them guessing throughout. Follow the story of Jessie O'Bourne, an artist who finds a young Native American woman, dying in a field, hidden between two hay bales. Jessie had planned to spend the day in the field painting a beautiful scene, and instead she gets involved in a very ugly one. Jessie's old love interest, Sheriff Russell Bonham, tells her that another young woman had been attacked on her way to talk to Jessie's family about two Thomas Moran paintings, worth millions, that were stolen almost a hundred years ago on the same night that Jessie's great-aunt Kate was murdered. Could all of these things be tied together? You'll need to read the book to find out!

I very much enjoyed Death on Canvas. Author Mary Ann Cherry has done a fantastic job in creating characters, especially Jessie, that her readers will be able to connect with, will relate to and will truly come to care about, thinking of them long after the final pages are read. If that isn't a hallmark of a great author, I'm not sure what is. The story line is surprising, and that is saying a lot from a person like myself, who is a voracious reader and loves mysteries in particular. Any reader who enjoys a great murder mystery, or any reader looking for a great work of fiction in general, should absolutely read this book. I highly recommend Death on Canvas, and am looking forward to reading more from this intriguing series as soon as it is available!

Ica Iova

Death on Canvas by Mary Ann Cherry is a suspenseful thriller. The novel starts in 1918, rural Montana, where young John Running Bear witnesses Sister Mary Campbell’s body being dragged from St. Benedict's Mission School and dumped into the river. The story jumps forward to present day when Jessie O'Bourne returns to her childhood home in Montana, where she and Jack the cat go painting in one of Jessie’s family's hay fields. There she discovers a young woman left for dead, and when an old flame, Sheriff Russell Bonham, reveals that the victim, Amber Reynolds, was attacked while on her way to speak to Jessie's family about two missing Thomas Moran paintings worth millions, Jessie is drawn into the investigation. The paintings disappeared nearly a hundred years ago from St. Benedict's Mission School, right after the unsolved murder of her great-aunt Kate. To discover the truth and find the paintings, Jessie must use all her skills — including that of a shooter — to assist the FBI and DEA agents.

All the characters are fully developed, but Jessie O’Bourne, a strong female protagonist, makes Death on Canvas a fast-paced, pleasant read with plenty of exciting scenarios, and several twists and turns. I loved Mary Ann Cherry’s easy and clear writing style. Through an impressive and complex plot, Mary Ann Cherry manages to keep the mystery of whodunit active throughout the book. There are no repetitive words and sentences to distract the reader, and the clarity of descriptions makes it easy to jump back and forth in time.

Rabia Tanveer

Jessie is a painter, she loves to paint, and it is in her blood and in her every breath. She is painting in a field one day when she absentmindedly painted something turquoise in the midst of all shades of yellow. Curious, she went to discover what inspired that action, only to find out that the speck of turquoise is a shoe still on the foot of a young woman barely alive. Scared and desperate, things become more difficult for Jessie when Sheriff Russell Bonham informs her that the woman was coming to see her family about two very famous paintings that went missing a hundred years ago from St. Benedict's Mission School. With new phases of her family’s history opening, Jessie believes this can help her unravel the mystery behind her great-aunt’s murder almost a hundred years ago.

I read Death on Canvas: The Jessie O'Bourne Art Mysteries Book 1 by Mary Ann Cherry when I was just looking for a good mystery (a rarity for me) and the cover caught my eye. Mary Ann Cherry has a way with words that cannot be easily described. I loved reading this novel; there was love, mystery, history, and so much more. She left a few loose ends and I like that in the novels I read; it fuels the fire in me to read the next one and keeps me in anticipation for the next novel. Well paced and well written, a great mystery of whodunit!

Melinda Hills

The harsh conditions and rugged environs of the old west come alive in this present day story as Jessie O’Bourne returns to her hometown ... to find a dying girl in her father’s field. Death on Canvas by Mary Ann Cherry follows Jessie as she ties the past together with the present in a case involving missing paintings and a surprising number of murders spanning nearly 100 years. Several famous paintings that were supposed to raise money for the local school disappeared, only to surface and disappear again. The common denominator is Jessie’s family and their relationship with the original artist and his protégé, Jessie’s great-aunt Kate. Secrets from the time of the original loss of the paintings resurface in the present with a surprising twist as Jessie tries to figure out who she can trust. The lawman who broke her heart, townspeople with old stories, and newcomers with interesting connections come together to create confusion that strengthens Jessie’s determination to find the lost paintings and get to the bottom of the mystery. Will the past come back to haunt Jessie or will the curse of the paintings be broken?

Beautiful imagery ties together history, present day mystery, and strong emotions in this wonderful story that brings the west alive. Mary Ann Cherry has created amazing and diverse characters as deftly as Jessie O’Bourne paints the brush strokes on her canvases. The story unfolds, looping you in deeper and more fully, uncovering pieces that come together like a three-dimensional puzzle culminating in a surprise ending. Thoroughly enjoyable on many levels! The author has brought not only the history of the area to life through the narrative, but the art lends a strong element that adds depth and interest to the story. Death on Canvas, Book 1 of the Jessie O’Bourne Art Mysteries is engaging and a great introduction to a strong female character with a lot to share in future volumes.