Book Review of James Patterson and Shan Serafin’s Three Women Disappear – Average
My Rating – 3 out of 5
This is another one from the collaboration factory of James Patterson, this time with Shan Serafin, who also writes screenplays. Though this has the trademark pace of James Patterson books, it also tries to imitate a Christopher Nolan type of ‘world within a world’ type of approach. But it fails in that.
Plot Summary – Book Review
Anthony Costello, nephew of Don Vincent Costello – the crime lord of Florida, is the Accountant to the mob. One day, he’s found stabbed to death, in his own kitchen. Three women who were around him at the time, are missing. Anna Costello – his wife, Sarah Roberts-Walsh – his Chef and Serena Flores – the Mexican Maid. Out of these, Sarah is also the wife of Detective Sean Walsh, a homicide cop who’s bent and also a violent husband.
All three women have their own good reasons to kill Anthony Costello and they also have a solid alibi for the time of the crime. Detective Heidi Haagen, the investigating officer, has reason to believe that one of the three women is the killer and his ex-partner now sub-ordinate, Sean Walsh, knows more than he’s letting on. Heidi plans to keep Sean away from the investigation while Sean chips away on his own, seemingly to exonerate Sarah from the charges.
The story unfolds through the first person accounts of the four primary protagonists, Sean, Sarah, Anna and Serena. Their conversations with Heidi or just self narrations, we get each person’s perspective on what happened on that fateful day. All the characters have their shades of grey and while they clearly have the motivation to murder Anthony, there is reason to doubt that they actually did it. All three women escaped the scene of crime but come up with believable reasons as to why they did so.
In keeping with the theme of confusing the reader, Anthony’s character is slowly revealed and in spirit of all fairness, we would all have wanted to kill Anthony had we been in their places. Some parts here slowly start getting a little confusing, at least for me! The constant shifting of narratives from one perspective to another, is designed to mislead, and to some extent it succeeds, at the same time it stretches the line of believability!
All three women had been wanting to be free from Anthony’s clutches for some time and wanted to start a new life on their own. Do they succeed or does the investigation catch up with the actual perpetrator? It kind of hastily comes together, as if there was a deadline to be met in publishing the book (maybe in reality there was!). This novel finishes within 70% of the total book, and there is another short novella tacked on at the end. I will be covering that in the following paragraphs.
Come and Get Us – Add on Novella – Review
A surprising addition to the end of the book is this novella (bookshots) by the same author combo. Miranda Cooper is driving her family (husband Aaron and daughter Sierra) to a friends’ Ranch across deserted back roads of Arizona. They are a happy couple, successful corporate lawyer Aaron is doing well at his job and they have a delightful daughter. Too good to be true? Well, it is….
On a particularly deserted stretch, a SUV aggressively pursues the Coopers’ car and eventually runs them off the road, down a slope into a gushing river! Aaron is injured but Miranda and Sierra are safe and unhurt. Miranda pulls them out of the car and the river, settles them in a cave and runs to look for help (cell phones have no service). While she staggers off, a semi-conscious Aaron tells her “Be careful who you trust” and passes out. What does he mean?
The intrigue is not yet over, the men from the SUV are still after them and Miranda has to avoid them and get help for Aaron. What secret has he been hiding from his wife? Is something sinister going on at Drake Oil (Aaron’s employer)? To find out what happens next, does Miranda survive the ordeal and unravel the mystery surrounding her husband’s life, read the book…
Conclusion of the Book Review
Both the main book and the novella at the end, begin with the promise of a thrill, but end up twisting themselves into a knot. Quite a few things conveniently fall into place, while some other events are staged to aid the protagonists – which do not seem to be natural progression of the events, but somewhat contrived. In the novella, Miranda’s ordeal and her battles with a team of professional criminals is one such example. Nonetheless, it is recommended as a light read for the weekend when you have nothing better to do.