Format: E-book, 272 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: 24 September 2012
Age Level: Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound
James Patterson returns to the genre that made him famous with a thrilling teen detective series about the mysterious and magnificently wealthy Angel family . . . and the dark secrets they're keeping from one another. On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: 1) She was the last person to see her parents alive. 2) The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. 3) She can't trust anyone--maybe not even herself. Having grown up under Malcolm and Maud's intense perfectionist demands, no child comes away undamaged. Tandy decides that she will have to clear the family name, but digging deeper into her powerful parents' affairs is a dangerous-and revealing-game. Who knows what the Angels are truly capable of?
I was hesitant to pick up this book precisely because it was a James Patterson teen novel. Have you ever read Maximum Ride? I have. Its starts out with a good premise but derails really fast. I was afraid this book might do the same. I was very pleasantly surprised as to how it turned out. Perhaps Maxine Paetro had something to do with it.
First off, let's get something out of the way. This is a murder mystery book. It is not supernatural; everything obeys the laws of physics, and everyone is human, for the most part. It is not a young adult romance; there are NO sappy love triangles to be found in this book, just trashy one that will probably make your stomach turn. It isn't even action/adventure, as most of the book takes place in one building in New York. There are no explosions to be found, just one measly high-rise death-defying run-of-the-mill B&E (breaking and entering, for those who aren't familiar with the term).
What I'm trying to say is that though I'm aware this novel lacks most (or all) of the usual themes many people look to YA for, it is a very solid work with plot lines that suck you in and characters that are all at once believable and so, so weird.
The narrative style is much like Maximum Ride, as it starts out with the main character, Tandy, breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the readers. I must admit I'm a real sucker for this hook tactic. I tend to feel more involved with the characters if they actually "talk" to me at some point in the book. Perhaps I'm the only one. I was glad to see that Tandy continues to do so throughout the book, sometimes when I least expected her to. The rest of the book is from Tandy's point of view as she relates everything that happened when her parents were murdered.
The plot is so twisty it's hard to talk about it without giving away all the surprises. I really love how the authors build a case in a certain direction, getting you to believe you've got it all figured out, just to dash all your hopes when someone else's motive comes to light. Everyone--the neighbors, the staff, the Angel family--takes a turn as the most likely subject, even Tandy herself. How could Tandy also be a suspect when it's obvious she has no idea what is going on, you ask? Between a drug cocktail given her by her parents and some questionable "therapy" from the family shrink, many of Tandy's memories have been suppressed, and she's done some things in the past she doesn't remember doing. So it's possible that Tandy herself might have killed her parents and simply doesn't remember doing so. She also finds out later on that she might actually have a pretty powerful motive to kill her own parents.
It's easy to see why any of the suspects would want to whack the Angel parents, too, because they were up to their eyeballs in some pretty despicable things. The extent of their atrocious goings-on comes out bit by bit throughout the book. While Tandy is looking for answers that might lead to her parents' killer, she finds out things about herself and her siblings that she's not sure she'd like to know about yet.
I'm pretty enamored with the characters in this book. Tandy starts out pretty unrelatable simply because she's been messed with so much by her parents. But with them gone she's free to explore facets of her personality that she was previously encouraged to suppress, so it'll be nice to see what kind of person she turns out to be. Her siblings are all very well developed. She has three brothers. Her oldest brother, Matthew, is your basic star jock with a terrible temper. He has pretty bad feelings about his parents, but with good reason. Her twin brother, Harrison, is the nice-guy nerd type. He's a musical genius, but he's always been snubbed by his parents because of his inability to control his emotions like the other Angel children. Hugo is Tandy's younger brother, and he's such a hoot! I have trouble remembering that he's only ten with some of the things he does! He idolizes Matthew, and wants to be just like him when he grows up. There are other things about the Angel children that make them unique, but I think it would be more fun to find out about them yourself if you choose to read it. The supporting characters are pretty fun too. I even found myself liking Detective Capricorn Caputo (what were his parents thinking?), even though he's so cranky.
There will definitely be a sequel to this book, because exactly one thing gets wrapped up at the end: the murder of Malcolm and Maud. Everything else remains completely open-ended. There are perhaps three other plot-lines that were opened up by Tandy's investigation into her parents' secrets, and not a one of them were even close to being solved when the book ended. I feel like they might even turn out to be more interesting than the original plot line of this book. I just HAVE to know what happens!
A favorite quote: “The fact is, I was the ideal detective for this case. This was a job that I could--and should--do. Please don't think I'm completely full of myself when I say that. I just knew that my doggedness and personal motivation would trump any training these guys had.
I am an Angel after all. As Malcolm always said, we get things done.
So as I sat in the living room that night, I took on the full responsibility of finding my parents' killer--even if it turned out that the killer shared my DNA.
Even if it turned out to be me.
You shouldn't count that out, friend.”