The Coast-to-Coast Murders, by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley; James Patterson; J.D Barker; and Little Brown and Company for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

This first-time collaborative effort shows that some authors have amazing chemistry with James Patterson, adding depth and intrigue to a novel that keeps the reader enthralled until the very end. With great psychological build-up and stunning development throughout, James Patterson and J.D. Barker take the reader on the most intense journey as a serial killer is revealed. When Michael Kepler (Fitzgerald) is called back to his apartment by a nosy neighbour, he suspects it’s a burst water pipe that has flooded his place. When he discovers the body of a woman in his tub, he is not only disturbed, but highly agitated. After calling the authorities, it is soon discovered that this cross-country truck driver may not be telling the truth, as the victim seems to know him quite well. Her apartment is full of photos of Michael and they seem to have shared quite the intense relationship. However, Michael is sure he has never met her, even if a great deal of evidence says otherwise. When he is taken into custody and questioned, the attorney provided for him violently helps Michael flee LAPD custody and off they go. Michael’s sister, Megan, receives many calls from her brother and is trying to piece this all together. Both are unsure what’s going on, but they fear telling their mother, a renowned psychologist, who is sure to judge them both harshly. When FBI Special Agent Jessica Gimble is alerted to the crimes, she reaches out to let the LAPD know that Michael Fitzgerald is a wanted serial killer for many murders across the country, the manhunt is on to find him. As the story progresses, Michael tries to assert his innocence, though there is something about his past that leads him to second guess himself. Adopted at four by a wily psychiatrist, Michael becomes a test subject in a number of highly intense studies based on his horrible early childhood. As the chase continues, Megan tries her best to help a brother she thought she knew well, but has come to believe that he might be the monster everyone seems certain he has become. It will take a great deal of effort to keep Michael out of the hands of authorities, though the bodies are piling up and there does not seem to be any way to explain it all away…. or is there? A chilling story that will take the reader on one of the most far-flung rides of their reading career, as the pieces slowly fall into place. Stunning in its delivery, this is sure to show that James Patterson does still have some magic left in him, depending on who is collaborating with him. Recommended to those who love the work of J.D. Barker, as well the reader whose enjoyment of intense psychological thrillers is second to none.

I always enjoy a great psychological thriller, particularly when it is penned by one of the greats in the genre. This unique collaboration has proven to be one of the great surprises of my reading adventure this year and it works so very well, as the story flows smoothly without being too quick to end. Michael Kepler/Fitzgerald is quite a complex character, though all becomes a little more understandable as the story progresses. Taken from a horrific situation, Michael was placed in an institution and then adopted by a family who saw him more as a lab rat than anything else. He is intensely scarred by the experience, which is revealed throughout the piece, especially as he remembers bits of his past. There is some obvious development to his character throughout, though it remains somewhat questionable as more is revealed about his life and the murders he is said to have committed. The banter between Michael and Megan is also key to this story, as she takes on a secondary protagonist role in this piece, helping to fill in many of the gaps the reader might not understand otherwise. This pair help lead the story in many curious directions, though the full cast of characters do a wonderful job of keeping the reader entertained throughout this long and meandering piece. There are so many angles and such flavouring of the narrative that the characters all play an integral role in the story’s overall success. This is definitely one of the most thrilling rides I have taken in a novel in a long time, as the story gains momentum, so did my interest. While the size of the book may seem daunting, the action and constant story development help to propel things forward. Using the usual Patterson quick chapter recipe, the reader can tackle large chunks without feeling the onerous task of wading through this piece, finding a rhythm and working with it until all is revealed. There are also numerous perspectives told in the story, offering the reader an even more intense look at the overall development of the piece as it progresses. Patterson and Barker have so many interesting ideas and some strong subplots in this piece, there is no doubt that this is sure to be one of those novels people talk about for months to come, while many hope to see another piece by these two heavyweights before too long. I am still trying to wrap my head around what I read and hope others feel as strongly as I do about this novel.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Barker, for this sensational piece. While there is always a gamble when collaborating, you two have hit the nail on the head and I cannot wait to see what’s next!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons