James Patterson. What a master of murder mysteries. I’ve only recently discovered him (after years of my older sister telling me to read him). But so far I like what I’m reading!
I feel bad if I don’t mention Candice Fox. On the front cover it has a little note at the bottom, “with Candice Fox”. I flicked through the book and only saw an authors bio and ‘other titles’ for Patterson. But however Candice Fox contributed, this is a shoutout to her. Woo, go Candice.
Patterson does these little mini novellas called BookShots. “All killer, no filler”, as the blurb says. We’re talking like 150 pages. So we get all the suspense of a murder mystery, without the unnecessary fluff. I ain’t complainin’. That same sister gifted me one for Christmas, and I only just read it. It’s titled Black & Blue.
At the risk of sounding like a seventeen year old drama queen on Jerry Springer, I must say; I’m shook.
I never do particularly well with ‘scary’ books. I can just tolerate the level of confronting violence and suspense that Patterson usually employs (and only if I read it during the day). But boy, do I get wound up.
I sat down and read the BookShot Black & Blue today. And believe me, it felt anything but short. In a good way. He managed to fit in such a complex and complete story in just 156 short pages. In true Patterson style, it contained 63 chapters. I love his short chapters, it’s so satisfying I read. After like ten minutes of reading I can brag to my non-reader boyfriend “oh, I’m already twelve chapters in”. And I sound like some kind of genius speed reader.
The novella follows Detective Harriet (Harry) Blue, who specialises in sex crimes. A body is found on the riverbank of the Georges River, and Harry assumes it’s the work of the notorious Georges River Killer; the worst serial killer they’ve seen in decades. We follow Harry as she tries to solve the murder of this young woman, while working in a less-than-ideal partnership with a fellow cop, infamous and hated in the force. The novel is primarily in Harry’s point of view, but also switches to third person point of view to follow other key characters. I love this technique, it can bring us so close to the killer and their victims, without giving us any information about who they are or how they’re linked to the story. So suspenseful.
Harry is a vigilante in her spare time, dishing out the justice she feels the courts missed out. She was a foster kid, and to say that she has problems as a result of growing up with only her brother by her side would be an understatement. But she’s tough, a great boxer, and overall, likeable as a character. She deals with misogynists in the force that keep her from accessing the information she needs to crack the Georges River Killer case. Patterson often uses strong female protagonists to challenge gender inequality in positions of power. I love it.
Did I mention it’s set in Australia? It makes it even better, in my mind. It’s set in Sydney, in fact.
It was fast-paced, intelligent and intriguing. Full of suspense, but thanks to its short length, I didn’t lose sleep over it, as I could easily consume it in one sitting. (Maybe it’s too soon to say I haven’t lost sleep over it. I’ll report back tomorrow if the suspense and fear makes it into my dreams tonight). I was reading in bed, and I all but stood up in the final few pages of the book, it was so intense. I had to lie down for a few moments afterwards, to take it all in.
If you do plan on reading it (which I do recommend, especially at such a short, consumable length), let me know if you guess the ending! Please. I’ve been dying to talk to someone about it. Someone who isn’t my boyfriend and doesn’t just listen because he has to, and nods along even though he doesn’t understand.
Recommend it? Yes! Do it!
Read before bed? Helllll no
Cry-worthy? Happily, no
Potential to fall in love with characters? Not really, at least not in a romantic way