An ocean view,
a private beach,
and a deadly secret...
Chapters: 123 (Plus a prologue.)
Book Links: Goodreads
When I picked up Murder House I expected what I'm sure a lot of people expected: A standard, fast-paced, action-packed Patterson bonanza. So, imagine my surprise - and subsequent delight - when Patterson and co-author David Ellis subvert my expectations by making a seemingly typical plot not so typical.
Murder House still has Patterson staples: There's a fantastic thriller/mystery that has you pulling on your detective's hat; there are some awesome action sequences; and, of course, everything's wrapped up in a nice, simply put but expertly written narrative.
But it's the weight of this novel, the deeper qualities where the authors take their time working the intricacies, that really sets this standalone apart.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Jenna Murphy moves to the idyllic area of the Hamptons.
There are ocean views, fresh air, oh, and sadistic murders at 7 Ocean Drive.
Coined the Murder House by the locals, the place holds a dark history littered with blood and bodies.
So when two turn up dead, Jenna feels inextricably compelled to delve deep into a case that isn't even hers.
But as she digs down, her own dark past becomes woven with the murky tale unfolding.
There's a savage killer on the loose, and everyone seems to be working against Jenna's investigation to find them...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
Murder House holds a slow-burning plot. It's intricate and well-written; structured to keep the reader's interest. The entire puzzle is a desperate race to slot the pieces together, and no matter how adept you are at it, there's always that one piece that leaves you reeling with shock. Patterson and Ellis weave this exciting and mysterious story with thick layers of history and emotional weight.
It's freaking awesome!
The twists range from being predictable (a joy for the reader as they smirk with satisfaction at their smarts), to jaw-dropping punches to the gut (the 'I should have seen that!' moments). Essentially, everything needed to create an unputdownable thriller.
Overall, this entry into Patterson's repertoire breaks the mold while still offering what one of his novels always offers: A damn good read.
Pace - 5/5 Stars
While slower than the more recent reads I've devoured from the author, Murder House keeps up a steady, exciting flow as we traipse around with the characters, trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
Leaving us more and more thankful that it's fiction and not reality...
Characters - 5/5 Stars
The strongest cast from a Patterson standalone ever. Period. Full stop.
Perhaps the best thing about this novel in regards to the characters is the sheer ambiguity concerning them all. Especially the main character Jenna. I could not conclusively predict who was evil and who was good because, well, they're all a little of both. The murky morality and excellent pieces of doubt the authors throw at you leave you none the wiser as to who the bloody killer is! You cycle through each member of the story going, okay, it definitely has to be him/her.
While you do linger on the real culprit (hard not to when you're pointing the finger at everyone) you don't know for certain until all is revealed in a satisfying and revelatory conclusion.
Jenna, our tough, intelligent cop main character defies your initial opinion. I mean, how many main characters with that description, in this genre, have you read? Instead, Patterson and Ellis bring a more human quality to Murphy. She makes mistakes, and not the kind that have you thinking along the lines of, well, they're mistakes that aren't her fault, they're good-natured at heart; all in the pursuit of evil. No, they're emotional and potentially life-altering mistakes made with terrible judgement, and that brings the reader closer to the intuitive screw-up.
The great thing is Jenna still embodies those stoic qualities we're expecting. She's determined to right wrongs, even if they're hers. It doesn't matter how small the puzzle piece is, she needs to understand it, to place it with utmost certainty.
Then, moving from Noah to Isaac to Aiden to Lang... The depth and maturity is all there. The rich histories and dark pasts combine with the good to create a cast that feels real.
The authors have outdone themselves.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Murder House's writing follows the traditional Patterson formula. It's simplistic, but sets the scene perfectly; it's succinct, while still creating a full picture of what's going on; and it's quick, keeping up the speed.
The present tense amplifies these qualities, with everything moving in real-time.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
Here we have a murder mystery you need to read.
For more James Patterson reviews: Index
Don't forget, you can subscribe by email near the bottom of the blog (on desktop version) and have new posts delivered straight to you!