Tag: mystery


FIrst Case by James Patterson and Chris Tebbeets

August 31st, 2020 — 2:04pm

First Case by James Patterson and Chris Tebbets

I wanted to pick up a light mystery, so I thought I would try a novel by James Patterson, a very popular writer who has sold 325,000,000 copies of his books. His main character in this novel Angela Hoot, is a young woman who is a computer genius. She dropped out of MIT and thanks to the recommendation of her former teacher she gets an internship as a computer analyst with the FBI. Her first case takes her to a Boston suburb where a family of three has been murdered. Little did she dream that in a short time she would find herself on the verge of being another victim of the two brothers who were serial killers.

I must admit that at times I got lost in for what was for me high-tech computer lingo. I could imagine the use of cell phones, tracking devices with secret cameras and I tried to roll with the punches with the description of other technology.

Overall, I found the plot, relationships, a touch of romance, and even the attempt to get into the mind of a killer to be fairly routine. I respect that Mr. Patterson has found a formula that is very successful and although I am making a very small contribution to his royalities, I cannot recommend that you add to it by choosing this novel.

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The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

March 3rd, 2020 — 4:44pm

 

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

An old man who happens to be a Moroccan immigrant and the owner of a small restaurant is killed by a hit-and-run driver in a small California town. The impact on his friends, neighbors, police, a reluctant witness, and a few others is examined. Each person gets to speak multiple times as a chapter is devoted to the thinking of that subject at various times. Since many are immigrants, we get a sense of where they are coming from geographically and psychologically. We see familiar scenarios of parents’ expectations of children and young people trying to find their personal identities as well as exploring relationships. The reader is confronted with prejudice, pride, jealously, love, sexuality and a lot more human experiences.

The story is also a classic “whodunit” mystery. It reminded me of the many episodes I have seen of the popular TV program Dateline where a real mystery is detected and there is an attempt to show how the cast of characters is related and explained in some depth. Here is where the book failed for me. I got caught in wanting to figure out who the killer was, especially since there was an early suggestion that there was a motive and not an accident. Therefore, I became less interested in the in-depth analysis of each character and wanted to see the police solve the mystery. So in retrospect, I did not appreciate the potential value of this book, although it did hold my interest.(2020)

 

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

December 14th, 2013 — 1:22am

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynnimages-4 It is a very difficult task to review a mystery novel such as this one without revealing the ultimate secrets and discoveries, which develop in the book. This is not a “spoiler alert” as I will not deprive you of the fun of reading this book, which I do recommend that you do

As the title hints, you will be immediately confronted by the fact that Nick Dunne, one the main characters in the book has come home one day and his wife Amy is nowhere to be found. He assumes she will return shortly but that is not the case. The distraught husband calls the police and the local detectives become characters in the story as they begin to assemble clues. Thanks to modern media this situation becomes a worldwide story, closely followed by newspapers, television and the Internet.

The format of the book is that there are alternate chapters written in the first person through the eyes and thoughts of Nick and Amy. This provides the reader with the back-story on the two protagonists and their relationship as well as insight into the evolving mystery. The great thing about this book is that it is clearly a page-turner that you don’t want to put down. The author gives us characters who pay attention to details but so does she. There are no wasted words. Every incident or piece of action is ultimately related to something else important in the story. There is also authenticity to the various situations. This is especially true when we are dealing with a mystery where the police are involved. It has to be assumed that the readers have watched CSI and a bunch of other TV crime shows so they come to expect DNA analysis and the like.

However in a typical crime show on TV we expect interesting, even fanciful characters but in a top-notch best selling novel we also expect insight into the characters and their personalities, which are realistic and internally consistent.  Those of us who probe the human psyche for a living (being a psychiatrist) especially appreciate this. We meet Amy Dunne’s parents and we do come to understand her unique upbringing but that is as far as it seems to take us. Otherwise she is presented as a beautiful, intelligent woman who was a great catch for Nick. Similarly Nick’s persona is invented as some typical guy that everyone might know and like but we really don’t have a clue about the determinants of his psychological development despite meeting father who basically only utters one sentence over and over. We have very little insight into the two stars of the show.

On the other hand I found it quite interesting to see the authors’ detailed description in the acknowledgment section of the warm, rich relationship that she has with her own family. This only suggests the vivid imagination that she has to have in order to construct the characters in her novel who were quite different.

Despite some the above stated reservations we do own a debt of gratitude to the author for providing a very good read.

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