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Burnt Sienna

Burnt Sienna

3.9 10
by David Morrell

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An ex-marine must stop a dangerous arms dealer before he kills again in this high-action thriller from New York Times bestselling author David Morrell.


An ex-marine must stop a dangerous arms dealer before he kills again in this high-action thriller from New York Times bestselling author David Morrell.

Editorial Reviews


The Art of Murder

For more than 25 years, David Morrell has been one of America's most reliable creators of high-speed, high-energy novels of action and suspense. His very first novel, First Blood, established his mastery of the form and remains one of the more durable cultural artifacts of the Vietnam era. Readers familiar only with the film adaptation (and its execrable sequel, Rambo) should give the book a try. Unlike either of the movies, it is the real, unadulterated thing.

Echoes of First Blood find their way into Morrell's 15th and latest novel, Burnt Sienna, which features Chase Malone, a world-famous artist who bears a slight, but crucial, resemblance to John Rambo. Like Rambo, Chase is a highly trained former soldier who has done his best to put the military life behind him. Like Rambo, Chase finds himself victimized by outside forces, forces that leave him no alternative but to resurrect his buried skills and go, unwillingly, to war.

It all begins when Derek Belasar, billionaire arms dealer and world-class psychopath, "offers" Chase a commission: to paint two portraits of his ravishingly beautiful wife, the eponymous Sienna Belasar. Chase refuses, for reasons of his own, and trouble follows. Belasar, who never takes no for an answer, responds by attacking Chase at a number of vulnerable points. He bulldozes Chase's beachfront home in Cozumel, shuts down his principal New York City art gallery, even purchases -- and closes -- his favorite restaurant. As Chase, pushed to the wall, prepares to push back, fate intervenes in the form of Jeb Wainwright, a former fellow soldier who is now an agent for the CIA.

Jeb tells Chase a disturbing story. According to CIA sources, Derek Belasar has been married three times previously. All three of his wives met with fatal "accidents" shortly after having their portraits painted by well-known artists. Convinced that Sienna Belasar is slated to become victim number four, a reluctant Chase Malone -- who has already developed an obsessive fascination with Sienna's photographed images -- accepts the commission, travels to Belasar's weapons testing center outside Nice, and becomes, in effect, a de facto CIA operative. Once installed in Belasar's domain, he begins to gather data on his new employer's business dealings. At the same time, he looks for an opportunity to save Sienna's life.

Chase, of course, completes the process of falling in love with Sienna, who has no idea that she is married to a latter-day Bluebeard. Eventually, the two of them escape together in a stolen helicopter, with an enraged Derek Belasar hot on their heels. What follows is a skillfully plotted, furiously paced chase novel filled with hairbreadth escapes, violent encounters, and mysterious betrayals. Ultimately, their circuitous journey ends where it began: in the Belasar compound near Nice. There, in a bloody, thoroughly satisfying denouement, Chase Malone the artist yields to Chase Malone the soldier as he and his opponent wage a small-scale war, using Derek Belasar's own supply of highly refined, state-of-the-art weapons.

Morrell is an established master of this sort of story, and BURNT SIENNA provides a generous display of his characteristic virtues: the narrative energy, the explosive bursts of action, the big, cinematic effects. On the down side, some of Morrell's besetting faults are also on display: the occasional stretches of stiff, unidiomatic dialogue; the Dean Koontz-like habit of belaboring the obvious; the tendency to create characters through broad, melodramatic strokes. In Burnt Sienna, the major casualty of this latter tendency is Derek Belasar, who, for all his florid, fire-breathing monstrousness, never quite comes alive. Belasar, in fact, would be perfectly cast as the heavy in a James Bond film: Dr. No on steroids.

Problems like these keep Burnt Sienna from achieving the level of John Le Carre's The Night Manager, a novel to which it bears some striking similarities. But viewed on its own straightforward terms, Morrell's latest is a surefire, made-to-order crowd pleaser and should have the author's considerable following lining up to buy. Whatever its limitations, Burnt Sienna is a viscerally exciting narrative that is, by the end, surprisingly touching, surprisingly effective in its understated portrayal of obsessive -- and enduring -- love. Morrell may not be John Le Carré, but he is a consummate professional who always provides a compelling, high-adrenaline experience. So strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. A good time is almost guaranteed.

—Bill Sheehan

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like his last novel, Double Image, Morrell's robust latest dips into gothic territory as an obsession with beauty leads to lethal extremes. The new novel, however, incorporates more of the uber-thriller elements for which Morrell is known, depicting one decent man's fight against a black-market arms dealer equipped with unlimited funds, political access and a private army. Ex-marine hero Chase Malone has made it big in the art world as a painter, so arms dealer Derek Bellasar asks him to paint a portrait of Bellasar's wife. Malone won't do commission work but Bellasar won't take no for an answer. Soon Malone finds his life in turmoil: his land in Mexico has been sold, his house is scheduled for bulldozing, his favorite restaurant closes and his New York gallery has been bought--by Bellasar. Malone's old Marine buddy, now in the CIA, is after Bellasar for myriad international crimes and begs Malone to spy on the arms dealer. Jeb adds that Bellasar has had three beautiful wives, each of whom died right after having their portrait painted. Malone agrees and is flown to an extravagant mansion and arms-testing range in Nice, where he falls in love with Bellasar's wife, Sienna. The feeling is mutual and the pair plan their escape when Sienna discovers the portraits of previous wives and an even more terrifying secret. Morrell delivers hairpin plot-curves as the lovers make their way to a CIA safe house, only to have Sienna recaptured and Malone left for dead. The mayhem concludes in a pyrotechnic ending with a twist that Morrell's fans will love in spite of the accompanying romantic schmaltz. Foreign agent, Danny Baror. Film rights to Irish Dreamtime Productions; author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Morrell's latest thriller is a vast improvement over his disappointing last book, Double Image. Ex-Marine Chase Malone has become a well-respected artist known for his beautiful landscape paintings. Derek Bellasar, a ruthless arms dealer, tries to force Malone to paint a portrait of his wife, Sienna. At first, Malone refuses, but when Jeb Wainwright, a Marine buddy who now works for the CIA, shows up asking for help, Malone relents. It seems that Bellasar commissioned paintings of each of his three wives before they died in mysterious accidents. Can Malone prevent Sienna from following in their footsteps? The characters are interesting, the plot is relentless, and no one excels at writing action scenes like Morrell. Thrillers don't get any better than this. Recommended for public libraries.--Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

David Morrell is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight books, including his award-winning Creepers. Co-founder of the International Thrillers Writers Organization, he is considered by many to be the father of the modern action novel. To learn more, go to www.davidmorrell.net.

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Burnt Sienna 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's an easy book to read, with action from the start. The plot is pretty simple. I recommend it for pure enjoyment.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
From art to arms dealing this book is a continual page turner. Chase Malone is ex military turned artist when his whole life is turned upside down by Derek Bellasar an illegal arms dealer. Derek wants a painting of his wife and then wants her dead. Morrell has continued to create suspense at its best. Don't miss this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The adventure and suspense kept me turning pages until the book was finished. As usual Morrell has written a page turner. The storyline just kept getting better and better. I liked the characters and the suspense of not knowing what would happen next. I wanted to continue reading after I was finished. I am a big fan of David Morrell. I thought this book was excellent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite what might be considered an improbable way to get the main character involved in the plot, David Morrell has come up with a fast paced, griping novel of deception and intrigue. He manages to produce a compelling story line with good characters and developement that kept me going in one reading to find out the conclusion. The ending is vintge Morrell and the book overall has elements of other masters such as Alistair MacClean, early Frederick Forsyth with a hint of Ludlum when he was up to his game. This is one not to miss.
Mikeeman More than 1 year ago
The villan really wins--even with his eventual demise, ends up the winner. Most of it is due to the inept ablity os the protagonist (Malone) to show any strength of character or will, except when he plays punching bag, which he does alot. i guess I confused Chase Malone for Cotton Malone when I made the purchase. If you invest your interest and concern, your in for a letdown and a soap opera conclusion. Reader Beware!!!