Plot or Premise
A young man goes to work for an artist in an artist commune, helping the aging artist by mixing the paints and holding the palette, as well as general valet duties. The painter begins a new painting and it is better than anything he has done in a long time, but with his resurgence in art comes a growth in a sense of foreboding around the relationship with the young man. Numerous references are made to the fact that there are unspecified things that the man just wouldn’t do. As the painting nears completion, the young man senses a change coming. A nude body of a young man is found in the trunk of a car parked behind a restaurant (hence the name of the book), and the police begin to investigate the boy’s identity.
What I Liked
The book is really well-written, and it is done out of linear time. The book opens with the police finding the body, and then just as they trace the young man to the artist’s commune, the story switches back in time to several months before when the young man first arrived at the commune. Then it follows the young man through his arrival at the commune, his integration into the community, and his relationship with the artist, right up until the impending change. Then it switches back to the police who finish off the investigation. A major twist at the end was easily seen beforehand, but it was still a twist within a twist.
What I Didn’t Like
The second part of the twist opened up a lot of doors but the police never go through any of them unfortunately. The twist opens up a lot of avenues related to the psychology around the death of a child, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a friend, etc. As well, there is the end of one part of the story, a key ingredient, which is never touched upon at all. I found a lot of loose threads that could have been really interesting; instead, the book is wrapped up quickly, almost like the author was afraid to go near the deeper issues.
The Bottom Line (★★★★☆)
Excellent mystery but a few threads left hanging.