And if she fails to escape...

she'll lose herself.

Spirit of the Fox is a cerebral mystery novel. If you like Japanese culture, riveting suspense, and the power of family, then you’ll love Matthew O’Connell’s intersection of science, spirituality, and folklore. 




Spirit of the Fox


The Painter of Time




"Painter of Time is a brilliant piece of work; an evocative, carefully researched, well written narrative that will keep you enthralled from the beginning to end.  Intrigued by Matthew O'Connell's story, I took the trouble of checking out some of the places, artists and masterpieces described in the book and, to my great satisfaction, found the underlying facts on which the storylines are based to be perfectly accurate.  Because the book is basically a mystery, I will not go into too much detail, but I can confirm that I enjoyed it greatly and have no hesitation in recommending it.  Read this book - you will not be disappointed."

“An enchanting story of a young art restorer's attraction to a handsome colleague turns into a tale of intrigue in Matthew O'Connell's The Painter of Time [...] O'Connell uses simple, often sensual, means to develop the relationships between his characters, all handled with tenderness and insight. His descriptions are richly colored and his flashbacks to the lives of the Renaissance painters are lively, intimate, and informative."

" In The Painter of Time, Matthew O’Connell has woven art history, art conservation and mystery into a fascinating multi-layered story. Reading this novel is like being taken on a tour of the Uffizi by a passionately informed docent who introduces us, not only to the paintings, but to the artists who painted them. O’Connell weaves a contemporary plot with flashbacks through time to Renaissance Italy and gives a sense of the artists as flesh and blood men and not just famous names in catalogues. Art history has never been so alive. "

Foreward Reviews

Suzanne M. Wolfe,

Author of The Confessions of X

Charles Remington,

Readers' Favorite

I really enjoyed it. The audio recording was great, easy to understand, engaging, and enjoyable to listen to. And believe me, I now know more about art restoration and history than I ever imagined I would! The story kept my interest despite it being a topic I knew very little about going in.

I liked it and enjoyed listening and would definitely recommend it – even if you, like me, don’t know anything about the topic going in!

The plot details are engaging and kept me eagerly listening. The historical elements of the paintings and the detailed explanation of restoration are very fascinating. The descriptions would pull in any art lover and even those of us who are familiar with some art periods and styles but are in no way art authorities. I recommend this to mystery lovers as well as art lovers.

Martha's Bookshelf

This is a charming contemporary tale that incorporates the lives of some of the great Italian artists from Medieval and Renaissance times.  The suspense is well done, cranking the reader up chapter by chapter.

Susan Fouche did a fantastic job with this narration. Her New York and Italian accents really brought this story to life. Her pacing was perfect and her male voices were believable. She had distinct voices for all the characters. Plenty of emotions are on display in this tale and Fouche brought them all to life

All Things Jill-Elizabeth

Dab of Darkness


"Spirit of the Fox is thrilling, captivating and will take your breath away."

Chicago Tribune

"Spirit of the Fox is brilliant. It takes you on a mysterious journey that is simply captivating."

The Baltimore Sun

“Matthew O’Connell combines ancient Japanese folklore with modern-day life in this fast-paced mystery.  O’Connell beautifully and vividly describes the Japanese cityscapes, food and culture; for example. The main characters are likeable, caring and believable. As this story pitting myth against reality unwinds, murder, suicide, deceit and Meiko’s clever grandmother conspire to make it an indelible page-turner."


"Spirit of the Fox will take you on an incredible journey that you will never forget..."

Daily Press

Spirit of the Fox is a gripping, culturally immersed mystery.

Matthew O’Connell’s intriguing and compelling mystery, Spirit of the Fox, draws on the culture and history of Japan.

Atmospheric descriptions of Japan’s spiritual landscape help to set the scene. Breaking with form, the novel gives readers much more information than any one character possesses through expository scenes that implicate the culprit early on. The technique is both frustrating and delightful, drawing connections that the characters themselves cannot yet make.


The appearance of Hana as a character is jarring and unclear; the revelation of the mystery speeds up the story. Once Hana is established as a character, her schemes are gut-wrenching and impressive. The resolution of the mystery is deliberately unclear, but satisfying and appropriate.


The writing is precise; descriptions are terse, moving quickly between action and dialogue, with some mouthwatering descriptions of food and drink coming between.

Clarion Review

BlueInk Review

"Very well written and worth reading.  I recommend this book for people who are interested in Japanese folklore or just love a good mystery."  Chosen as one of the top 5 mystery fiction books of 2018.


"Spirit of the Fox is an amazing, thrilling novel from start to finish - I never knew quite what to expect next in this story."

Working Mommy Journal


Matt 1.jpg 2015-10-14-11:10:40

About Me

I’m not exactly sure when I decided to become a novelist, but I have always loved fiction. I'm sort of a plodder when it comes to reading (and writing as well).  I enjoy lingering on the dialogue, the descriptions, the scene and setting. While my tastes are pretty eclectic, I am definitely drawn to books that push the limits of reality.  

I recently sold the company, Select International, that I co-founded in 1993.  We started the company in Guadalajara, Mexico where my wife Mari and I lived and worked for a little over two years with a wonderful group of employees. It was a phenomenal experience; we both learned not only to speak the language but also to embrace the Mexican culture and people.   

In the past twenty years I’ve written over two hundred white papers, journal articles, book chapters and even a book, Hiring Great People. But writing technical papers is far removed from writing fiction. There are more constraints -- the need to backup what you write with results or references, and the format is usually clearly outlined, and frankly, somewhat rigid. Fiction, though, is truly a blank page, which is both liberating and terrifying.

Almost ten years ago I got the idea for The Painter of Time, my debut novel. Then, of course, it was just a concept that needed a lot of fleshing out. It meant a lot of research on art history and art restoration, neither of which I had any formal training or experience. But I love doing research and learning new things so it was a natural fit. What I didn’t realize is how hard it is to actually write a good novel. There’s much more involved in the actual craft of writing that I ever expected.  

I recently finished my second novel, Spirit of the Fox, which takes place in Japan. It came out in both paperback and ebook versions on Amazon in October, 2018.  So far it's received a lot of very positive reviews.  

Mari and I split our time between Incline Village, NV (essentially Lake Tahoe) and San Diego, CA, both of which are phenomenal locations, both beautiful in their own way. We share our lives with our two dogs, and two cats.



News and Events

The Painter of Time

Interview with Matthew O'Connell



Let's Talk

Fill out the form to the right and I'll

get back to you as soon as I can.

Email *

Name *



Thanks! Message sent.