This summer, I wanted to try authors I haven't read before. I'm always looking for a good book to read. I picked up Beach Road by James Patterson & Peter De Jonge and took it with me on vacation. I've read good things about Patterson and his books. Beach Road is set on the east end of Long Island which appealed to me. I recognized many of the places Patterson mentioned in the story.
The trouble is ... I didn't like the book very much and felt disappointed.
It started out all right. Tom Dunleavy, the main character, is a sort of lack luster lawyer. He used to play pro basketball but washed out after an injury. Apparently he didn't have such a great family life because his older brother is more like a father to him. Naturally he used to have a wonderful girlfriend years ago but dumped her for reasons unknown and now she is a high power city lawyer. And also naturally, Tom has a dog.
Three of Tom's friends are murdered some time after a game of basketball at the home of one of those absent ritzy rich folks who happened to have a very nice court built on the property. Tom, his brother, and the three murdered friends challenged Dante Halleyville, a giant of a high school athlete, and four of his friends. There was a scuffle that turned a little ugly during the game and so when the three guys turn up dead, naturally suspicion falls first on Dante and his pals. Up to this point, I thought it was interesting.
The story is told from several view points. Among them: Tom, Kate Costello, Dante, a knowledgeable cop from Brooklyn named Connie Raiborne, a psycho drug dealer named Loco, Dante's grandma, and a very minor character named Nikki Robinson (cleaning person and cousin of Dante's).
Some of the obvious: Dante is arrested and accused of the murders. Although Tom doesn't step in at first to act as his attorney, he does become lawyer for the defense. He also persuades Kate to join him. Grandma is staunchly supporting her grandson. Raiborne does his job, carefully seeking out clues and figuring out what happened. All of these things aren't terrible, just predictable.
The reason I didn't like the book? There was a twist in it that just didn't ring true. If you read the book you'll see what I mean. When I read it, I thought there is no way that these people would act like that, I just don't believe it. I think it's because the authors didn't lay enough of a foundation to suggest the possibility. It just seemed to come out of thin air and that is very annoying.
I felt like one of the characters from the movie Murder By Death, who gathered all the great literary and movie detectives together to solve a murder. The character, Lionel Twain, totally bamboozles these detectives and then says: "You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us all with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before. You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did it." Like I said, that stuff is very annoying.
One more thing annoyed me: in the book, the press dug up a tidbit about Tom Dunleavy that I suppose was supposed to be a clue. Whether it was or not, we never found out whether it was true or not. That's one thing I would have liked to have known. There's several other questions but I don't care enough about the book to even post them.
I'm going to try another of James Patterson's books before I cross him off the list. Maybe it wasn't such a great book because he wrote it with someone else. I thought I would give one of the Alex Cross books a try. We'll see what happens.
This is the first time I have read Paterson. I admit - I tend to be a bit of a snob about NYT Bestselling Authors - if I don't discover them on my own before they hit the NYT, chances are I will avoid them until someone suggests them or I have some other reason to try them. In this case, my reason was being caught out without a book, at a small deli with a very small used bookshelf. This looked like the most interesting of the bunch.
The book was fantastic for the first 145 chapters (that's right - chapters. Damn short chapters Patterson writes, and that's the truth.) I thought I had discovered a new favorite author, to add to my existing list of 30 or 50 or so favorites. I was already writing letters in my head to a few penpals, to tell them how great this guy was.
Then, in chapter 145, the book took a sudden nose dive. The end made no sense. The charcters, so well and carefully devoloped, broke from their own characters so greatly as to tear the hell out of my suspension of disbelief. The entire end was a writing trick that I call 'Daemns ex machina', and I care for that writing trick not a bit better than I like Dias Ex Machina.
I can not recomend this book in the least. I actually asked the bookseller at my local used bookstore her opinion of Paterson, she said she liked him, but warned me away from this book in particular - so I will have to, perhaps, try a couple of his others, to see if he is usually better than this.
A real page turner. I read it in two days, I could not put it down. The ending is a real twist.
Great story... until the last few chapters! The surprise ending really bothered me!
Very fast read! You need to read this book quickly to be able to keep on track. Every chapter is told by a different character so it can get confusing if you don't read it quickly!