Off the Beaten Page: James Patterson pleases again with “Murder House”

James Patterson is well-known for his provoking thrillers, as well as his embracing of supernatural elements in his literature. With “Murder House,” his newest creation in conjunction with David Ellis, he instills a feeling of looming dread in his readers, something that he so often excels at doing. The plot, from the outside, appears to be a bare-bones interpretation of an old ghost story, but Patterson adds all the necessary garnishes to create a proper plot.

The story focuses on Noah Walker, a young Hollywood mogul with a dark and seedy past. While this archetypal character is bordering on cliché, the way in which Noah is portrayed is as an antiheroic protagonist. The beachfront community where most of the horror unravels is an unlikely setting for a mystery novel, adding a layer of needed depth to set it apart from other books that follow this similar plot progression. Since a majority of Patterson’s stories follow the same essential format, the revamping of scenery and character development is a major factor to keep in place in order to add spice to a novel.

The prologue of “Murder House” is one of disturbing connotation, which sets the tone effortlessly for the eeriness to come later in the book. Patterson posted several excerpts of the novel online for reader to review before purchase, which is a good tactic since the first thing they will see is this prologue. The main character’s detailed language and vague pronoun usage lead readers to believe the story will turn down a certain road before it unexpectedly halts and makes a turn in the opposite direction.

Fans of Patterson’s other works, however, may not feel like they are getting the best work out of the author. Patterson is very well-known for his intricate storylines and tumultuous character development. “Murder House,” however, provides a more straightforward approach to a mystery, leaving the audience with few small questions, but a couple big ones. It is similar to his other pieces in how it is set up; it just progresses at a different pace and in a new way. That does not in any way affect Noah as a character; he is a fully developed, multi-layered individual with a deep secret. The novel keeps the reader guessing until the end and satisfies for horror and mystery fans alike.

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