by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kristin Burns has lived her life by the philosophy “Don’t think, just shoot”–pictures, that is. Struggling to make ends meet, she works full-time as the nanny for the fabulously wealthy Turnbull family, looking after their two wonderful children and waiting for her glamorous life as a New York photographer to begin. When her photographs are considered by an elite Manhattan art gallery, it seems she might finally get the chance that will start her career.
But Kristin has a major distraction: forbidden love. The man of her dreams is almost hers for keeps. Breathless with an inexhaustible passion and the excitement of being within reach of her goals, Kristen ignores all signs of catastrophe brewing.
Fear exists for a reason. And Kristin can only dismiss the warnings for so long. Searching desperately for the truth through the lens of her camera, she can only hope that it’s not too late.
First Sentence: It’s way too early in the morning for dead people.
This is a great quick read, with each chapter averaging about 3 pages, 111 chapters divided into 14 parts. It is written in the first person narrative of Kristin, a young aspiring photographer in her 20’s who works as a nanny for a super rich family in New York City.
The story opens with Kristen stumbling upon a fresh crime scene outside of the Falcon Hotel as she walks to work one morning. She pulls out her camera and starts taking pictures and notices four body bags being removed from the hotel on gurneys. As she’s snapping photos of them, she swears she sees the zipper of one of them opening and a bloody hand reaching out of it.
This turns out to be a bad dream, but as she gets out of bed and goes about her morning, she finds that when she passes the hotel, the exact same scene from her dream is playing out right before her eyes. The events that follow are bizarre and blurs the line between reality and illusion.
Throughout the book, I’m questioning whether Kristin is a psychic, or just going crazy as she starts to see people that have been dead for years and is seemingly being chased by a mysterious man. Her photographs offer surreal clues without giving any clear answers.
All the signs, from the dreams of the Falcon Hotel, the music she hears in her head, the dead people she encounters, to her inability to perceive time seem to point in the direction that she’s having a nervous breakdown.
She’s having an affair with a married man, whose children she cares for as their nanny, and the further the story progresses, we see that she has a bit of a psychotic side, as she stalks the family and snaps photos of them without their knowledge. Yep. It’s got to be a psychotic breakdown.
Or… is it?
Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger and it’s hard not to keep reading to see what happens next.
The characters are developed only to the degree that it serves the story, as it is after all, only being told from Kristen’s point of view, as warped as it might be at times. Overall, the way everything comes together at the end is mind-blowing! And the ending itself leaves much room for speculation. While it isn’t a book that blew me away, it was enjoyable!
There is one thing that bothered me however, which will reveal a spoiler, so I will mention it after the favorite quotes. You’ve been warned.
“In the end, we’re only the sum of the choices we make, right?”
“Remember it takes two to tango”
“Yeah,” he says, leaning in closer. “Except you’re forgetting one thing.”
“No one’s ever forced to dance, are they?”
Spoiler Alert!!! (albeit a mild one)
Throughout the book, Kristen vaguely brings up her own personal connection to the Falcon Hotel, which turns out to be the fact that she and her ex-boyfriend stay there when they first arrive in New York City and she gives birth to a baby boy while there. The baby boy ends up dying, from what she says is due to their negligence to not get him straight to a hospital. The problem I have with this is I’m not sure what it has to do with the rest of the story. While it did give us a bit more insight into the kind of person Kristen is, it didn’t end up being the big reveal that I was hoping for that would weave itself into the fabric of everything else that happens. She just sort of blurts the secret out at the end, after teasing us with it in so many chapters, and then it’s discarded just as quickly.