Liar, Liar (Harriet Blue #3), by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Eight stars

The collaborative efforts of James Patterson and Candice Fox have brought about another winner in this third instalment of the Harriet Blue series. Picking up the action when the previous novel ended, the reader is thrust into a fast-paced crime thriller that has as many twists as it does lingering questions. With the revelation that Regan Banks is the actual Georges River Killer, it is time to capture Australia’s most elusive serial killer in short order. While Harriet ‘Harry’ Blue has always professed that her brother, Sam, is innocent, it was only after he was murdered behind bars and the evidence came to light that anyone believed her. With Banks on the lam, Blue has taken it upon herself to find him alone and put a bullet in his head in an act of vigilante justice, while lurking in the shadows and away from her colleagues. With the Task Force turning its attention to finding Banks, they must also worry about Blue, hoping she will resurface and let the authorities bring the killer in to answer for his crimes. With Banks in hiding, he is able to ascertain Blue’s personnel file, which includes much of her backstory from a life in foster care. Reaching out to Blue, Banks takes her around southern Australia to different locations of people important to her, leaving bodies as a calling card. Meanwhile, Blue’s friend and fellow cop, Edward Whittacker, has been given a new partner as they hunt down the likes of Banks. Vada Reskit is a rookie detective with a great deal of gumption, perfect to help with the investigation, though there is something about her that leaves Whittacker a little concerned. As the case pushes forward and the Sydney Police turn Blue into a criminal on the run, there is little hope for a peaceful resolution to all of this. While Banks and Blue continue their game of cat and mouse, all that remains sure is that there will only be one survivor and a lot of blood. Patterson and Fox continue this successful partnership, crafting a series that has all the elements of a good crime thriller. Perfect for series fans and those who love a crime novel they will be able to devour in short order, as they revel in an ending that no one could have expected.

In my long reading career, I have spent much time with the books of James Patterson. Some will know that I have a love/hate relationship with the author, who would appear to use his name to sell books, rather than focussing on quality (the James Patterson Syndrome). While that may be the case, Patterson does collaborate with a number of authors who seem to have a strong ability to create quality work, thereby showing that not all pieces that bear the Patterson name need be duds. Candice Fox is one such author, who is a well-established author in her own right that I have come to read and enjoy. As Patterson continues to churn out novels faster than I do reviews, those involving Fox should not be lumped with many sub-par pieces of writing. Those familiar with this series will know all about Harriet Blue and her dedication to clear her brother’s name, as well as bring the actual killer to justice. Her backstory is riddled with emotional land mines from a life in foster care, which is handled effectively so as to draw the reader closer to her, always wondering if there are new pieces that might better explain the protagonist’s life. This novel turns the focus of Blue’s character development to finding Banks and ensuring he receives the punishment he has coming to him. The reader will likely enjoy the rollercoaster of emotions Blue exhibits as she tries to stay off the radar of authorities while turning this search into a vendetta fuelled by personal injustice. Banks is another character who has taken some of the spotlight, showing off what may have driven him to kill so freely and without a second thought. The reader can, should they choose, find crumbs of compassion for the man, though he is crafted as a wonderful antagonist and one that can be hated with ease. A handful of others shape the story as it turns from a manhunt into a desperate search for a cop who has lost her ability to think rationally. This gripping storyline will keep the reader flipping the pages of each short chapter and likely polishing off the novel in short order. Patterson has kept the cliffhanger formula to drive the reader to push onwards while Fox’s Australian influence can be seen throughout the plot. Well worth the time invested, though it should not take a reader with a gap of time in their schedule long to complete this intense thriller.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Fox, for keeping this series moving. How a BookShot (short story) could have morphed into such a series, I could not have predicted from the outset. I hope your collaborative work continues.

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