Paint by Numbers Summary:
Bloom’s on Canyon Road, specializing in contemporary Native American art, once was a powerhouse gallery in Santa Fe. Then it lost its best-known artist, Willard Yellowhorse. Worse yet was Yellowhorse’s premature death soon after arriving in New York City under very suspicious circumstances. With Yellowhorse’s final painting STRUGGLE, about to be sold at auction, gallery owner Charles Bloom’s inner voice keeps asking two unrelenting questions: how did Willard Yellowhorse really die, and who if anyone killed him? The answers for Charles lay somewhere deep inside the Navajo nation, Yellowhorse’s ancestral home. Charles will need the help of Yellowhorse’s sister, Rachael, and her grandfather, the nearly 100-year-old medicine man Hastiin Sherman, to unlock the key to Yellowhorse’s death. What Charles Bloom doesn’t realize is the evil coyote spirit that tracked down Yellowhorse is still watching and Charles could be next, if he isn’t careful…. A Charles Bloom murder mystery set in Santa Fe and Indian Country. Paint by Numbers is perfect for fans of Tony Hillerman.
“From the gripping prologue to the twist-upon-twist conclusion, Mark Sublette’s PAINT BY NUMBERS will keep you up nights… unable to stop turning the page!” – – Sandi Ault, best-selling author of the WILD Mystery Series
“Mark Sublette’s first novel is… marvelous. The white art dealer Charles Bloom lives in New Mexico with Indians. His impressive work is constantly taken away by those who go for nothing but money in New York. But Charles Bloom never stops in following great creativity… neither should we.” – – Michael Blake, Dances with Wolves
“A deadly mystery about art and ambition, stretching from Navajoland to New York.” – – Wolf Schneider, abqARTS
“This riveting art mystery, in the tradition of the late Tony Hillerman, successfully develops an intriguing tale that captures the essence of the creative spirit of the Navajo from the Toadlena region.” – – Mark Winter, The Master Weavers, and owner of the Historic Toadlena Trading Post
A conversation with Mark Sublette, author of PAINT BY NUMBERS: A CHARLES BLOOM MURDER MYSTERY
Q: Since you are an art gallery owner in Santa Fe, and so is Charles Bloom, how is he like you and how is he not like you?
A: Bloom deals in strictly contemporary Native material, all modern works. I handle primarily antique Native artifacts and western art. From a dealer standpoint, I’m sure I have felt many of the same emotions working in the art profession.
Q: How much of what you write about in this book is true?
A: I use a few deceased artists and historical facts to help bring scenes to life, but all the events surrounding these characters are fictitious. The geographic locations and timelines are accurate, and the Toadlena Trading Post is real. This is one of the reasons I include my photos–so you know what’s real.
Q: Is Bloom’s much like your Medicine Man Gallery?
A: We’re both located on the 600 Block of Canyon Road! The feel of Bloom’s is similar to many historic galleries on Canyon Road.
Q: How many times have you been to Navajoland, and does it still have hogans without electricity?
A: I love to visit the Navajo Reservation. The land has a starkness that is palatable and in some ways, it’s just like it was 100 years ago. There are still hogans and houses without electricity or water. Having said that, young men in hoodies listening to rap are also a part of today’s rez.
Q: Does Canyon de Chelly really have all those old crypts?
A: There are crypts in Canyon de Chelly, but you won’t be able to see them as they are well hidden and not something that would be shared with outsiders.
Q: Is the character of Willard Yellowhorse modeled on any real-life Native painter, like maybe TC Cannon?
A: Willard is no one and everyone. He is the creative power that can be found in all artists. He and his sister Rachael Yellowhorse in my mind embody people I would meet not only on the reservation but at a university. Well educated, yet respecting their culture.
Q: Have you ever met the famous people appearing in this book, like Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, and Jean-Michel Basquiat?
A: They were before my time, but captured my imagination in books and films. Since all the scenes I place them in are figments of my imagination, I sort of turn them into fictional characters, respecting how I would expect them to behave, and bringing some cachet of their times.
Q: Have you ever known an art dealer as unscrupulous as Bernard?
A: Thankfully no…though it’s possible they’re out there.
Q: Have you ever been to an auction at Sotheby’s in New York?
A: Many times.
Q: Do you believe in coyote spirits and evil Chindi?
A: Surprisingly I do. There are some places and things we don’t understand, especially when it comes to Native American beliefs, and I don’t take those beliefs lightly.
Q: Did you take all the 22 photos in this book, and which ones are of Navajoland?
A: They are all my images, and mostly of Navajoland. There’s one of New York City, and one is a drawing by Maynard Dixon of Canyon de Muerto done in 1923. The images were mostly taken around the Toadlena Trading Post, Gallup, and Canyon de Chelly.
Q: When is the next Charles Bloom book coming out?
A: The next book comes out summer 2013 and is titled Kayenta Crossing. That book is more focused on the Navajo Reservation, with a new character who’s a young medical doctor, and of course, Charles Bloom is back. The story for that particular book has been rolling around in my head for over a decade!