In Thulani Davis’s Maker of Saints, Alex Decatur, a performance artist and sculptor known for works that draw on exotic religious imagery, falls to her death from the window of her Manhattan apartment house. Her neighbor and friend, a former artist named Bird Kincaid, is certain that Alex did not commit suicide as the investigators conclude. Rather, she is convinced that Alex’s controlling lover, an influential art critic named Frank Burton, is responsible for her death. For some time, Alex had heard the sounds of violent arguments coming from their apartment.
Much earlier, Burton had written a disparaging review of Bird’s first solo show, a review so scathing that it caused Bird to stop painting. She works now as a sound engineer for public radio documentaries. Her obsession with proving Burton responsible for the crime energizes her. As Bird begins to catalog Alex’s effects left in her apartment, she comes across boxes of videotapes containing Alex’s experimental performance pieces. Bird is certain that Alex, fearing for her life, used the tapes to leave clues behind in case anything happened to her. Bird becomes intrigued by the tapes, which reveal aspects of her friend that she had never suspected and which shed light on the psychologically twisted relationship Alex maintained with Burton.
When Bird herself is brutally attacked in her apartment house by a man wearing a ski mask, she feels suddenly vulnerable. She seeks...
(The entire section is 541 words.)