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Sunday, October 11, 2015


4 stars out of 5

First, let me get the "stuff" I wasn't crazy about out of the way. I'm not fond of first-person narratives, and I especially dislike present-tense writing. And while the ending wraps everything up in a neat and tidy fashion, it goes against the grain of  human emotion; nobody I know is able forgive and forget that fast.

Other than that, this one's a killer - starting with a first chapter that made me say "Wow! out loud  - really! It's so good, in fact, that I was almost happy when we weren't able to get the Ohio State-Maryland football game on TV - allowing me to keep my ears on he radio and both eyes on the book (the Buckeyes won, BTW).

At first, the short chapters (for which Patterson is known) zig and zag from person to person and time to time, and for a short time that was a little confusing. But that changed in short order as each one became a building block for the sometimes downright creepy plot and particularly gruesome murders that crop up along the way. The story begins as Detective Jenna Murphy has taken a job on her uncle's police force in the Hamptons, where as a child she was a regular visitor. She's accepted the job after leaving the Manhattan police under a cloud of suspicion, and this job, she believes, will be her only chance to salvage her much-loved career as a cop.

Aye, but there's something nasty lurking in the Hamptons; notably, a once-fabulous but now deteriorating house on the beach at No. 7 Ocean Drive. Rumor has it that it's cursed by way of long-ago murders that occurred there, resulting in its nickname of "Murder House." The locals have the good sense not to go there anymore, but then a couple of bodies are found inside and Jenna is on the case. That doesn't last long, though, as a suspect is arrested and the investigation becomes open-and-shut.

Ah, but if that were true, this book wouldn't exist, would it? Suffice it to say that Jenna - who's got some past demons of her own involving that house - isn't buying into the notion that the case is solved. To her dismay, though, she quickly learns that her continued poking around isn't appreciated by her police colleagues (especially not by her uncle). But as more bodies turn up, more clues are revealed that open new doors to Jenna's past as well as the culprit's real identity. Jenna isn't about to give up, no matter where the chase leads - which quite possibly could be to becoming a victim herself.

The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown and Co., September 2015); 480 pp.

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