I picked up this book because I’m taking James Patterson’s Masterclass writing course and this is the book he uses for an example of how to do things. There was no other reason than that. I would not have read it otherwise because it would have sounded to me like a fairly stock black widow thriller. I do like thrillers as an occasional guilty pleasure, though I’m more a sci-fi/fantasy reader, but I wouldn’t have gone for a black widow thriller. I like spy stories, or noir, or serial killers trying to catch other serial killers.
This was not your standard black widow thriller. To think that would be a mistake. It starts out that way, and that’s what you think it is, but you’d be wrong. I see why Patterson uses this book as his example for how to build plot and how to create an outline.
Some really don’t like his trickery. They think he lays it on too thick at the beginning or that the end came out of nowhere. That’s a matter of personal taste, and I don’t judge it, but I see the subtle craft in it myself, and to me, the ending made perfect sense. I believe I have learned the lesson Patterson intended when he basically assigned the book as a textbook. And I can appreciate it.
I can’t disagree with the general assessment of the characters. They’re okay, but in many ways they’re a stereotype. I find Nora Sinclair particularly insidious that way because she’s a black widow stereotype and that kind of image of women is often used to justify misogyny. The other three significant women in the group are mere cyphers. This novel fails the Bechdel Test; the only significant conversation between any of them was indeed about a man.
But if you enjoy a good thriller, I can definitely recommend this one. And if you just want to read a well-crafted plot, you should give it a go too.