vendredi 11 avril 2014

Eden in Winter by Richard North Patterson

For three days, Adam Blaine and his family had entered the Dukes County Courthouse, a modest two-storey brick structure with white trim and doors, and passed through a double door to a spiral staircase that rose the courtroom itself.

In the aftermath of his father's apparent suicide, Adam Blaine has taken it upon himself to hide the truth - that the man who raised him was in fact his uncle and that his real father is the murderer who pushed his own brother off a cliff. As he struggles to protect those he cares about from the fallout, Adam also begins a relationship with his dead father's mistress. With the police and a journalist closing in on the truth, though, it seems that his dead father's reach may extend beyond the grave...

Ever since I read Balance of Power back in the early 2000s, Richard North Patterson has been a writer whose books I devour as quickly as I can. Though many of his earlier works were more straight-up legal and political thrillers, in the past few years he has been releasing a loose trilogy that depart from his status quo. Called the Martha's Vineyard Trilogy and starting with Fall from Grace back in 2012, these three books are more literary than what Patterson has written up until now. Following the fates of the Blaine family and those they have affected, Patterson has slowly developed a family saga with complex characters and a tangled web of lies and betrayals.

Eden in Winter is the final book in the trilogy and returns to "modern" day after the flashback to the 1960s presented in Loss of Innocence. We find the Blaines caught up in the immediate aftermath of the events of the first book as Adam's "uncle" - his real father - and brother are called to court in order to give their versions of what happened the night Benjamin Blaine ended up at the bottom of a cliff on Martha's Vineyard. As their testimony is given, we see how Adam has been manipulating events in the background, giving us a glimpse into just how good Adam is at what he does. As the story progresses, we follow Adam's struggles with his own life, and see as he tries to change it. A large part of that change involves Carla, his father's mistress, pregnant with his child. What begins as Adam wanting to make sure that his baby cousin has a better life than he does turns into much more as he and Carla draw closer.

Adam as a character develops in some interesting ways throughout the novel and we get a front seat to that as a large part of his storyline is taken up with his discussions with a psychiatrist friend. Forced to look into his relationships with his parents, his brother, his lovers and his job as a CIA contractor in Afghanistan, Adam comes to some major realisations about what he wants out of life and most of the impetus that keeps the pages turning revolves around seeing how and if he will be able to make different decisions than his father did.
Patterson's writing is crisp and at times lyrical. The skills gained writing more thrilling material in the past transfer well, making sure that what is at its heart a character piece delving in to the complex relationships of this - admittedly screwed-up - family is also a page-turner. Being so heavily invested in these characters from the previous novels also helps, obviously.

The one negative is that the final resolutions are a tad pat, especially when it comes to the relationship between Adam and Carla. Although the set-up is such that the ending seems in a way logical, it also demands a suspension of belief on the part of the reader that what should be such a totally dysfunctional and even slightly twisted relationship should work. Patterson lays the ground work, though, especially thanks to Adam's conversations with the psychiatrist throughout the early chapters.

A family saga full to the brim with deceit and lies, Eden in Winter delves deep into the characters of the Blaine family and manages to create a page-turning yarn that is hard to put down. With hints of the political and legal thrillers that Patterson is well known for dribbled throughout, the book is a nice resolution to a departure trilogy for the writer. As usual, a great read that cements Patterson for me as a must-buy whenever he brings out a new book. I gave Eden in Winter 4 bodies at the bottom of a cliff out of 5.

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Author's Website

From the Blogosphere:
No reviews that I could find

From the Author's Mouth:
Interview and article for the Boston Globe

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