Book Review: Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter De Jonce

A friend loaned me this book as a “quick summer read.” I put it on a stack that got misplaced over the summer, and I recently found it again.

Quick—she wasn’t kidding! Even going to bed exhausted, I was able to finish this book in about three days, reading it before bed and while keeping an eye on the kiddo in the bathtub. The font is large and spaced out, and the pages fly by quickly. Chapters can be read in about two minutes.

When I read that it was about the murder of someone in East Hampton, I couldn’t imagine it would be a good read. I didn’t want to read about rich folks and their problems. But it starts off in an engaging way and keeps it up the whole time. The book is about the millionaires of the Hamptons and those who have very little. It’s about detectives, lawyers, townies, aspiring sports stars, drug dealers… the diversity in character helps keep the work engaging.

The premise: an aspiring basketball player named Dante is charged with the murder of three—and then four—people. Tom Dunleavy believes Dante is innocent, and he takes it upon himself to defend the boy.

As Tom makes headway on the case as almost an amateur detective, he faces discrimination from his former friends, who believe Dante is guilty, and he can’t seem to get his love interest to forget about his past mistakes. In the meantime, essential witnesses and others begin disappearing, murdered by someone who has many of the cops under his control.

The narrative is told in alternating chapters—the list of characters and a brief description appears at the start of the novel for ease in reading. The use of varied points of view both adds and detracts from the suspense. For instance, when we read from Dante’s perspective, we learn whether he is actually the killer or not. On the other hand, the varied use of perspective builds dramatic irony. And without spoiling it, there is a narrative voice that we cannot trust, and that makes for the twist advertised on the back cover. I did feel a bit betrayed by the one dishonest voice.

It was a book without much substance but a quick read with enough intrigue to keep someone interested. A perfect beach read.

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