Book Review: Confessions of a Murder Suspect (Confessions #1)

Summary:

On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: She was the last person to see her parents alive. The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. 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?

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ 5/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is the first book in the Confessions series by James Patterson. I picked up this book at the store a few years ago, having recognized Patterson’s name from the Maximum Ride series. As I was going through my bookshelves for something to read, I came across this novel again and remembered how much I had enjoyed it. So, of course, I had to read it again and write a review!

This novel is not just a murder mystery. It’s much more complicated than that. It is the story of a family full of secrets and a narrator who admits that she might not be reliable–even she doesn’t know whether she should trust herself. It adds a unique element to the novel and makes you tiptoe the line between reality and fiction throughout each chapter.

The book opens with our narrator introducing herself– sort of.

I have some really bad secrets to share with someone, and it might as well be you–a stranger, a reader of books, but most of all, a person who can’t hurt me. So here goes nothing, or maybe everything. I’m not sure if I can even tell the difference anymore.

The night my parents died–after they’d been carried out in slick body bags through the service elevator–my brother Matthew shouted at the top of his powerful lungs, “My parents were vile, but they didn’t deserve to be taken out with the trash!”

He was right about the last part–and, as things turned out, the first part as well.

This opening featured just the right amount of mystery and suspense. We learn from the very start that secrets will play a huge part in this story, along with the fact that our narrator has a few things hidden as well. This intro immediately invested me in the story, so much so that I finished the entire novel in under an hour. I was curious about the secrets that were obviously spread throughout the Angel family and I wanted to unravel them and figure out what had happened to Tandy’s parents.

Characters

The Angel family is an immensely interesting set of characters. To start with Tandy, our narrator, I have to say that I absolutely adored her. I’ve seen some reviews that argue her blandness is overwhelming, but I disagree completely. She’s not bland. She’s simply trained herself not to show emotion. It’s a very integral part of her personality. I felt for her and I found myself trusting her, even though she implicitly stated that she didn’t know if she was trustworthy. I also really enjoyed Tandy’s voice. She was honest and blunt and matter-of-fact and it definitely worked for the story.

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.

Hugo Angel is Tandy’s younger brother. He appears to have a much more black and white view of the world than his sister. He was more prone to anger and it is pointed out that he sees the cops as villains. I thought Hugo was pretty adorable, even though it was clear he could break anyone like a twig if he really wanted to. I enjoyed his minor part in the story.

I found ten-year-old Hugo in his room. He was still wearing his Giants sweatshirt, and he was using a baseball bat to break up his four-poster bed.

As I entered the room, he swung the bat for the last time, splintering the headboard, then began working on the bed frame with karate kicks.

“Hey. Hey, Hugo,” I said. “Enough. Stop. Please.”

I dropped my lacrosse stick and wrapped my arms around my little brother. I dragged him away from the bed and more or less hurled him toward the cushy, life-size toy pony that Uncle Peter had given Hugo when he was born.

Harry Angel was also an interesting character. Though he is Tandy’s twin, the two are worlds apart in terms of personality. He was the more sensitive of all the Angel siblings and his characterization made him the most sympathetic character as well. Though each Angel eventually showed their grief, Harry was distraught the moment he was told that his parents were dead. I loved that he seemed to be more fragile than the rest of his siblings. It made him seem more real and tangible than the other siblings. It was also interesting to see his backstory and how it connected to his attitude and persona.

Harry also has a great smile. I guess I do, too, but I almost never use it. Harry uses his a lot. Maybe he’s the only Angel who does, actually.

Finally, the last Angel sibling is Matthew. Though it was apparent that he was honest to the point of harsh bluntness, he also seemed to genuinely care about his family. As a famous player for the NFL, Matthew brings an incredibly new element to the story. He had possibly the most caustic relationship with his parents, but his reaction to their death was raw and impassioned. He was angry at their death and you could tell that he was struggling with how to handle it throughout the book. His relationship with his siblings showed his caring nature, however, and I loved the little moments between the Angels.

When Matthew entered a room, he seemed to draw all the light and air to him. He had light brown dreadlocks tied in a bunch with a hank of yarn, and intense blue eyes that shone like high beams.

I’ve never seen eyes like his. No one has.

Other characters included Detective Hayes and Sergeant Caputo, the two officers assigned to the case. I thought that the author did an incredible job with both of these characters. They were polar opposites, a fact that our narrator pointed out as soon as she met them. It was a very interesting dynamic and it kept me on the edge of my seat as I wondered who would solve the murder first.

Plot

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is quite honestly one of favorite novels. The tension is palpable throughout the chapters and it is written in a way that makes you crave more. I loved the story and I was right there with Tandy the entire time, trying to figure out the truth behind the death of her parents. This book was really interesting because it puts you in the mind of a narrator that isn’t sure if even she can be trusted. I went back and forth between characters, trying to decide who the real killer was. I did eventually guess the ending, but it took me much longer than it usually would and I couldn’t figure out all the details.

The plot was filled with mystery and I was constantly  trying to find clues that I was missing. Another extremely interesting thing about this book is the intertwined Confession chapters. In between every few chapters, there are chapters entitled Confession where we get to see into the past from Tandy’s perspective. It’s really interesting and gives us a way to delve into the secrets and pasts of the entire Angel family, even Harry and Hugo.

Conclusion

I absolutely adore this book and I highly suggest you pick it up as soon as possible. It is filled with danger and disaster and dysfunction, not to mention the twists and turns of the investigation. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro truly created a masterpiece and I believe that if you enjoy suspense or crime, you should definitely give it a try.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: Heist Society (Heist Society #1)

Summary:

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

Alright, so I read this book right when it came out a few years ago. I remembered thoroughly enjoying it, so I decided to reread it this week. At just under 300 pages, it’s a nice length and manages to finish the story well.

The novel opens with an introduction to the Colgan School, our main character’s current residence.

No one knew for certain when the trouble started at the Colgan School. Some members of its alumni association blamed the decision to admit girls. Others cited newfangled liberal ideals and a general decline in the respect for elders worldwide. But no matter the theory, no one could deny that, recently, life at the Colgan School was different.

While this opening is not as fast-paced as some other spy/crime novels, it definitely intrigued me. I was immediately drawn to the prestigious atmosphere of the school and the way Ally Carter described it. She writes it in a way that makes you feel like you’re there watching everything unfold. With the first sentence, I wanted to know what the “trouble” was referring to. And it did not disappoint.

Characters

I absolutely adored our main character, Katarina Bishop. She’s spunky and feisty, but best of all…she’s real. You can feel her struggle throughout the book as she goes from trying to be a normal girl  who’s had anything but a normal life to trying to save her family and pull off her biggest job yet. It says in the first few pages, “Some called her a hero; others called her a freak.” I really enjoy her characterization because you can feel what she feels. You can feel the sheer desperation that Kat has throughout the book from attempting to keep her father alive. You can feel the hope slipping away as things get more complicated. You can feel the acceptance as Hale drags her back into the “family business.” Kat is a strong character, but I love that we get to see her inner thoughts and experience her small moments of weakness. We get to see her almost break down, but hold it together and move on. She was written extremely well and I loved delving into her mind.

Hale. Oh my word, I think I found another guy to add to my “Characters to Marry” list. He’s suave and sophisticated and handsome and definitely a bit sneaky. After all, he did manage to convince Kat to rejoin the gang for some criminal fun. He is full of confidence and charm, not to mention the weight of his family’s wealth hanging over his shoulder. He’s the perfect love interest/best friend towards Kat and I love what he adds to the story. Not to mention, the way Kat describes him and his attributes is absolutely beautiful.

Kat sometimes wondered if that kind of self-assurance was something only very old money could buy. Then she wondered if it was something you could steal.

Kat’s family, including her father Bobby, Uncle Eddie, cousin Gabrielle, the Bagshaw brothers, and many other colorful characters provide for a hilarious cast. From the dry wit of her father to the sultry sass of Gabrielle, these supporting characters add so much to the story. They all play an important role and it’s extremely interesting to see how people tie into a sort of ‘crime family.’

The main villain is named Arturo Taccone. When his prize pieces of art get stolen, his prime and only suspect is Bobby Bishop. However, he is more than willing to use Kat as a middle man when Bobby is in a bit of trouble of his own. I honestly enjoyed Taccone. I felt like I understood his motives, even if I was frustrated at him for not listening to Kat half the time. I felt like his actions were given reason and that he was a force to be reckoned with. However, we also saw his shortcomings, which was a gift in and of itself. I like the dimensions to him, as well as the other characters.

Plot

The story-line for this novel was very intriguing. It featured the right amount of suspense and thrills, as well as a little comic relief and romance. By using such lively characters, Ally Carter managed to create a world that was realistic and unbelievably interesting. The really cool part about this novel is that it is something that could be happening right now. Crime rings exist all over the world, along with notorious families. I really enjoyed following Kat as she tried to make it through the countless obstacles thrown in her path. The conclusion and resolution was believable and everything fit together in a way that made you smile and shake your head because it was so ridiculous that it just had to work.

Favorite Quotes

“You need me,” Gabrielle said. There was no doubt in her voice. No flirt. No ditz. She was in every way Uncle Eddie’s great-niece. A pro. A con. A thief. “Like it or not, Kitty Kat, the reunion starts now.”

It is an occupational hazard that anyone who has spent her life learning how to lie eventually becomes bad at telling the truth.

But Hale was still moving, shrinking the distance between them. He seemed impossibly close as he whispered, “And I didn’t choose it, Kat. I chose you.”

“Oh.” Hale smirked. “That’s simple.” Kat wasn’t moving— wasn’t dancing—and yet it felt like her heart might pound out of her chest as she watched Hale lean farther into the shadows and say, “I’m the guy who happened to be home the night Kat came to steal a Monet.”

Hale was Hale. And not knowing what the W’s stood for had become a constant reminder to Kat that, in life, there are some things that can be given but never stolen.

Of course, that didn’t stop her from trying.

“Some people understand the value of an education.” Hale stretched and crossed his legs, then settled his arm around Kat’s shoulders. “That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.” “I’d settle for the ice cream.” “Deal.”

Conclusion

Ally Carter is a wonderful author. On her website, she says that she wrote the Heist Society books as a way to keep her older readers entertained once they became too old for Gallagher Girls. Personally, I love both series, but that’s not important. I think that Heist Society is full of suspense in all the right places. It’s a great read with wonderful language. I love that she tells you names of cons and you’re essentially rooting for the criminals. The way Carter crafts her characters is beautiful and I can’t wait for the fourth book to come out. And Kat and Hale? Three words. I ship it. This series is perfect for a long car ride and I highly encourage you to pick it up soon!

Signed,

your favorite bookworm

Book Review: The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die

 

16059396

(image from barnesandnoble.com)

Summary:

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive, in The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/5

(review may contain minor spoilers)

This book was extremely interesting right from the beginning. Each chapter is titled in the style of a day and a time. For example:

Chapter 1

Day 1, 4:51 P.M.

The first lines of the novel introduce us to our narrator.

I wake up.

But wake up isn’t quite right. That implies sleeping. A bed. A pillow.

I come to.

Instead of a pillow, my right cheek is pressed against something hard, rough, and gritty. A worn wood floor.

My mouth tastes like old pennies. Blood.

I really really really liked the way April Henry started this novel. It was suspenseful and riveting and I was immediately drawn into the world she created. The narrator describes what is happening without seeming like she’s just trying to give away the setting. She speaks like she is seeing everything around her for the first time, which, as we find out, she basically is.

This opening was perfect for a thriller/mystery and it certainly set the tone for the story.

Characters: We don’t even know who our narrator is until almost halfway through the novel. Candace (Cady) Scott couldn’t even remember her name at the start of everything and it was really interesting to see her put the pieces together. I think the author did a really good job of recreating her from the bottom up. With memories, flashbacks, and triggers, we get little glimpses until Cady finally remembers who she really is and how she became “the girl who was supposed to die.” Cady occasionally acted in such a way that made me want to throw things at her, but, in all reality, I probably would have acted the same way if I was in her situation. Her paranoia and suspicion is realistic and her voice throughout the novel is very believable.

Ty is a normal high school kid. He has had a tough past, but seems to have found his place in the world for the time being. He has an apartment and a job and a life. That all changes when Cady wanders into the McDonald’s where he works. Somehow, he ends up entangled in the mystery surrounding her and tries to help her as much as he can, along with his housemate James. I loved Ty. He was fun and sweet and lots of good things. However, to me, he was too good. He’s a teenage boy. Albeit, a very mature one, but still a teenage boy. Teenage boys don’t just jump headfirst into murder mysteries. I would have liked to see a little more fear or confusion from him. I wanted a fight between Cady and Ty about her past and whether she was really in danger or not. I wanted him to wonder and ask questions and I wanted him to freak out that there were armed men trying to kill them.

I think the characterization that bothered me the most would have to be Cady’s mother. We don’t know anything about Cady’s family until the book is halfway over and I felt like what we did know was not appealing. I understand that she was wary when Cady called for the first time. But once it was proven to really be her daughter, I expected tears and joy and relief. I expected something. I got nothing. She felt cold and sort of cruel. I felt no sympathy for her. I wanted more emotion than just a shake or crack in her voice once or twice. I wanted heavy exhales and long silences and emotional pauses. I wanted to feel what she was feeling. Unfortunately, it felt like she was feeling nothing. It was as if she was just reporting about something she saw on television. I didn’t feel invested.

Plot: For a mystery, this was spot on. It had a really great premise and it seemed to follow the general rules for suspense and thrillers. Unfortunately, there were a few misses. I felt that everything got crammed together and rushed after Elizabeth was introduced.

I wanted Cady to be safe and I wanted her to be reunited with her family. I wanted Ty to make it out of the whole mess alive. There were a lot of great plot points. But it felt like the last half of the book was just kind of strung together. There should have been more explanation and more suspense. It seemed like the ending was slightly unrealistic. In theatre, there is a term called ex deus machina, literally translating to ‘hand of god.’ This essentially refers to the point at the end of a play when the conflict gets resolved by some higher power, like a god or King. The ending felt a lot like that. It seemed like everything bad just got thrown into a box and tied up neatly and tossed away, never to be seen again.

To put it simply, I wanted more before everything got solved. I wanted that moment where you feel like the good guys are going to lose. When they have to run away and regroup and try to come up with a new plan. I wanted failures before the great success at the end.

Conclusion: All in all, this was an enjoyable read. There were little things that I would have changed here and there, but it was an entertaining story. I loved Cady and Ty and I wanted them to make it out alive. I wanted a happy ending. I just wish it hadn’t come quite so easily. I wanted more of a struggle.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something to read on a short flight or during your free time. It’s suspenseful and full of twists and turns. April Henry has quite a way with words and her mysteries always have me at the edge of my seat.

Signed,

your favorite bookworm