The Exile, by James Patterson and Alison Joseph

Seven stars

One advantage to James Patterson’s use of collaborators is that he is able to present stories set all around the world, permitting the reader to experience new authors and locales to pique their interest. In this BookShot, Patterson brings Alison Joseph on board and shifts the focus to rural Ireland. While living in London, Finn O’Grady receives a panicked call from Bridie O’Connor, a friend from back in Galway. She explains that the old tale of the Green Man has merit, as her son saw him the night before. Out of her mind, Bridie will not accept no for an answer, pushing Finn to cross the Irish Sea to offer his assistance. While he wants to help, Finn is hesitant to return to Ireland, having been chased away when he served on the police force. The narrative explores the case that ended Finn’s police career, the rape and murder of Bridie’s teenage sister. Finn sought to crack the case wide open, disbelieving that the man who admitted to the crime was actually guilty. Trying to shake the stigma, Finn turns his attention to Bridie’s concerns around the Green Man. Well aware that the tale is simply folklore, crafted by Bridie’s grandfather many years ago, he seeks to show this to Bridie, who refuses to listen. When members of her family are found murdered, Bridie renews her feeling that the tale holds a degree of truth. Forced to cross paths with old enemies and the police chief who banished him, Finn tried to rectify that lingering case, while dispelling the Green Man tale. A killer is surely on the loose, though no one can quite be sure who it is or why to resurrect the myth. An interesting BookShot for those who enjoy the international experience, though it did not have the punch I sought to find it thoroughly enjoyable.

I am a fan of Ireland and was hoping to envelop myself in this wonderful story when I learned of its setting. There was something within the reading experience that left me less than drawn to the story or its characters, though I cannot put my finger on the specific issue. Patterson and Joseph create a strong character in Finn O’Grady, offering up significant backstory and present character development in this short piece. Finn struggles with trying to find truth in a community where lore and secrets prove a stronger reality. Having struggled with trying to find justice for Bridie and her family, Finn returns and wants to set the record straight. The story offers a number of secondary characters to help to prop-up this flashback-filled piece, though I was left slightly more confused and irritated than pleased with all the names that crossed the page. It was as though Patterson and Joseph wanted to bite off more than they could chew in this short story, forcing the reader to juggle names, places, and crimes in short order. The story was decent, filled with Gaelic phrases and hinting at some of the mystery that Ireland has always given me, though the true cultural sentiment was not as strong as I might have liked. I sought something with fewer threads to tie-off and more small-town feel to it. This story seemed to be all about past grievances and a character stain that Finn O’Grady wants to scrub away, with short chapters that created a jilted narrative. This may be one time that Patterson’s trademark writing style did not work for him. I applaud Patterson and Joseph for trying hard to tap into this fictional experiment and can see some strong foundations for a decent story, though I was just not feeling it. Call it my first let-down in this month of BookShot reading.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Joseph, as you sought to push BookShots into the Irish countryside. Alas, I am not sure if a few pints of Guinness and a re-read would make the story any better for me.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: