I have only ever read one of James Patterson’s books and that was Sundays at Tiffany’s. It was a great book, I liked his writing voice, but I hadn’t ever read any of the mystery/thrillers that he’s so famous for. So, while I was in Barnes and Noble with my wife celebrating our anniversary I saw this book and thought why not.
After buying it I figured I had committed myself and was then able to read the inside cover without violating the rules of the challenge. After doing so I thought it sounded a little dark, but intriguing as well. I like mysteries, I enjoyed the last thriller I read (Before I Go to Sleep) and so with that in mind, and remembering that I had enjoyed my previous experience with the author: I began to read.
Emmy Dockery excels at her job with the FBI as an analyst, but her problem is that no one is listening to her anymore. After the death of her sister, Emmy is the only one convinced that the fire that killed her sister wasn’t an accident. She alone believes her sister to be a victim of a serial killer, a murderer who is responsible for more than fifty murders around the country. The only problem is that no one but Emmy knows this killer exists. Even her ex-fiancé thinks her obsession is due to the trauma of her loss. But when evidence is revealed that simply can’t be ignored, Emmy becomes the lead mind of the team given the task of finding the killer before more people end up dead. As the FBI closes in on the target Emmy becomes forced to ask herself: how far is she willing to go, and what is she willing to lose to catch the one responsible for so much of her pain?
This was a dark, adrenaline pumping, mind-blowing book. I was worried that the end would be predictable and I’ll admit that up until the reveal I was skeptical. But when the killer stepped out into the light, I felt time slow to a stop. It’s a unique sensation: my heart rate seems to speed up while every movement and thought slows down to crawl as I try to process the new information. I had spent the past hour trying to figure out who the killer was and I was stuck on one person. I flipped through the characters in my mind, discarding some as potential options while placing the few suspects that were left into a pile in my mind. I knew I hadn’t thought of everyone or I wasn’t thinking everything through. In fact, I felt like Emmy Dockery as she tried to put all the information together; there was something missing. Patterson had done something to purposefully lead me astray, but it evaded me.
Other than it holding my attention as I stayed up late telling myself, “just one more page,” over and over again, it followed all the rules for a great mystery while giving me the impression that it wasn’t. One big rule for mystery stories (and how to solve them) is that the culprit must be introduced to the reader by the time the story is half over. A little later can be acceptable but not too much or you either give the reader too little time to figure it out or make it too easy.
At the same time that I praise this book for it’s success as a mystery novel, I must also draw some attention to the dark nature. Any book with a serial killer is bound to be dark by nature. However, this one gets points for being extra dark due to the recordings of the serial killer stalking targets, teaching the audience how to be a serial killer, and during some of the torture sessions. Don’t worry, Patterson doesn’t do more than hint at what’s happening. Though I think sometimes the hint was worse than the description because it leaves the reader to imagine what’s really happening. I’ve heard it said somewhere that we suffer more in imagination than we do from reality.
All in all I was both overjoyed and relieved that I had chosen a good book for this task. I don’t often read books that weren’t recommended or at least given high praise, and I especially don’t buy books that I don’t know anything about. That makes it an extra disappointment because not only would I have wasted my time reading a bad book, but I would have wasted my money as well. Thankfully this book didn’t disappoint and I hope it won’t disappoint anyone who decides to read it. My advice: set aside designated reading time because this is definitely a page-turner.
(I don’t know how frequently I will be re-reading this book, but it was so good that it deserves four stars no matter if I go back and read it again.)