Arturo Pérez-Reverte, a Spanish writer who is most admired for his readable thrillers and historical novels, turns his attention to more recent events of European history for the setting of his latest book. The painter of the title is Andres Faulques, a reclusive war photographer who retires to a watchtower on the coast, where he decides to create a circular mural depicting the horrors he has seen. One day he has a visitor, the subject of one of his most celebrated shots – a Croatian soldier he had left for dead. The photograph won Faulques awards, but destroyed the soldier's life, its publication leading to the death of his wife and young son. The debate between artist and subject lies at the heart of this very continental contest of wits.