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The Goldfinch meets The Nest in Neil Olson's atmospheric, art-history-inspired thriller.

An old-money East Coast family faces the suspicious death of its patriarch and the unsolved theft of a Goya painting rumored to be cursed

There are four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.

Their grandfather summons them to his mansion at Owl’s Point. None of them have visited the family estate since they were children, when a prized painting disappeared: a self-portrait by Goya, rumored to cause madness or death upon viewing. Afterward, the family split apart amid the accusations and suspicions that followed its theft.

Any hope that their grandfather planned to make amends evaporates when Teresa arrives to find the old man dead, his horrified gaze pinned upon the spot where the painting once hung. As the family gathers and suspicions mount, Teresa hopes to find the reasons behind her grandfather’s death and the painting’s loss. But to do so she must uncover ugly family secrets and confront those who would keep them hidden.

A masterful, deftly plotted novel, The Black Painting explores the profound power that art, and the past, hold over our lives.

Praise for The Black Painting


“Olson explores the dynamics of a dysfunctional family and their relationship with Goya's terrifying self-portrait… a promising psychological thriller.”

Kirkus Reviews

"An engrossing, dark psychological suspense tale." 


"The Black Painting is a fast-paced psychological thriller with a fascinating set of characters caught in a web of family lies, deceits, secrets, mental instability and a possible murder. This powerful tale of love and betrayal centers around a sinister painting that may, or may not, be haunted. A real page-turner."

—B.A. Shapiro, author of The Art Forger

"The volatility of memory, the treacherous crucible of family lore, and the myths and mysteries of Goya's Black Paintings all come hypnotically together in Neil Olson's outstanding novel. With taut, confident prose and breathless plotting, Olson leads us through a dark and dazzling kaleidoscope of a story. Here is a writer to watch."

—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

"Neil Olson's The Black Painting is an expertly confected, delicious mystery/thriller, and also a deeper study of the family romance, with echoes of Cheever's 'Goodbye, My Brother.'"

—Madison Smartt Bell, author of Behind the Moon

"You'll need extra coffee in the morning because The Black Painting is going to keep you up reading way too late! A well-crafted psychological thriller with an intricate plot and first-rate characters, this deluxe suspense literally bursts with surprises. "

—M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author of The Reincarnationist

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