Painting by Numbers by Tom Gillespie

Painting by Numbers by Tom Gillespie
Tom Gillespie’s debut novel, Painting by Numbers, has just been released in paperback. 
Description
Painting By Numbers is a dark, surreal thriller that follows one man’s relentless pursuit into an old truth buried deep within.
Day after day, Jacob Boyce – faltering academic and failing husband – visits a 17th century allegorical painting which hangs in a Glasgow art gallery. By using a series of measurements and calculations, he attempts to create a mathematical theory that will decipher the code locked into its canvas.
As more of the painting’s hidden secrets are revealed, and he meets a mysterious young woman, Jacob’s life spirals into chaos.
The object of his obsession has begun to move.
Painting By Numbers is a dark, surreal thriller that follows one man’s relentless pursuit into an old truth buried deep within.
Extract
Las Meninas dominated the space around it in much the same way as a bully dominates the school playground. Velazquez’s other masterworks displayed in the octagonal room seemed somehow diminished and beleaguered by its presence. Even at this relatively early hour, there were significant numbers of people milling around the painting. Some stood back, their mouths open, attempting to take in the scale and the unrelenting surprise of the work, while others could only deal with it in small doses, squinting at little areas of detail and shaking their heads in disbelief. Jacob moved further into the gallery. Avoiding eye contact with the painting, he focused on the shape and layout of the room, the distribution of light sources, and the interplay between the painting and the pattern on the gallery’s wooden floor. He positioned himself carefully at a point he believed to be the exact centre of the space. It had taken a number of minutes and carefully paced calculations to choose the right spot. He moved a few inches to the left and then back again to the right, adjusting his position. When he was sure he’d found the reference point, he was ready to look.
Instantly, the painting appeared to swell out and surge towards him like an impenetrable wave of darkness. The canvas pressed down into his face, forcing his eyeballs to rotate inside their sockets. Thick, tar-like fluid forced its way into his nose and mouth, down his throat and into his lungs. He couldn’t breathe. He began counting out his panic mantra in an attempt to offset the sensation of drowning.
“One – two – three – the air … four – five – six – “
But the sensorial assault persisted. He thought he was going to pass out and tried turning away, but his limbs refused to move. His lungs now felt as though they were about to burst through his rib cage. He began to lose consciousness and closed his eyes in preparation for the fall. But as he did so, normality returned. The weight of the invisible wave on his chest disappeared, the fluid receded and his airways cleared. He gulped in mouthfuls of oxygen until his heart rate slowed and he regained his senses. After a minute or so of controlled breathing, he had recovered sufficiently to open his eyes again. And this time, the painting remained where it should be and Jacob set to work.
Praise for Painting By Numbers
“I could not stop reading. With a fascinating subject matter and a surprising journey, Painting by Numbers is a stunningly clever and mesmerising read that will keep you enthralled to the very last page.” – Alison Wells, author
“Have you ever read a book that makes you want to read it all over again once you get through to the end? Painting by Numbers is just such a book. I read the last page and I immediately wanted to start over again…” – Reading with Monie
“[Gillespie]… is the new Dan Brown with a splash of John Grisham. I couldn’t put it down.” – 10/10 Minxemoo Reviews
“An absolutely thrilling thriller. When they coined the phrase, ‘This book is a real page turner’, they were talking about Painting By Numbers.” – S & J Book Shelf Reviews
“A story that had me thinking. Even after I’d finished it, I had to go back and read parts of it again. I was completely fascinated…” – The eBook Review
Review

Painting by Numbers is Tom Gillespie’s debut novel and it is being released by Crooked Cat Publishing on Thursday 6th September 2012. This is a dark, surreal thriller which follows one man’s relentless pursuit into an old truth buried deep within.
Day after day, Jacob Boyce visits a 17th century allegorical painting which hangs in a Glasgow art gallery. By using a series of measurements and calculations, his aim is to create a mathematical theory that will decipher the code locked into its canvas. As a result of his obsession Jacob’s marriage is failing and he is well on the way to losing his job.  But he has to find the truth, it’s important to him.
As more of the painting’s hidden secrets are revealed, and he meets a mysterious young woman, Jacob’s life spirals into chaos. Worse still, the painting has started to move!
The book is divided into three parts. The first chapter starts off with Jacob going on his regular visit to the gallery to observe the painting and make notes. In the next few chapters you also learn about his marriage and job. I felt that the story got really interesting towards the end of the first part and I found it extremely hard to put down from then onwards.
This is a well written novel. The descriptions throughout are very powerful. I could almost picture the paintings in my head.  You also get a very good feel for all the characters.
I give this book 4 out of 5. (By Sonya Kemp)



About the Author

Tom Gillespie was born and grew up in a small town just outside Glasgow. After completing a Masters in English at Glasgow University, he spent the next ten years pursuing a musical career as a singer/songwriter, playing, recording and touring the UK and Europe with his band. He now lives in Bath with his wife, daughter and hyper-neurotic cat, where he works at the University as an academic English lecturer.
Tom writes long and short fiction. A number of his stories are published by www.eastoftheweb.com. He is also a regular contributor to fridayflash.org.
Tom’s writing has been described as terse, minimalist, hyper- realistic and ambiguous, where layers of meaning are conveyed using a concise and economical style.
He is currently working on a second novel and a short story collection.

For further insights, read an interview with the author.
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