and what we wish they were

Category Archives: Murder mystery

Confessions of a Murder Suspect  I don’t know how to discuss this book without giving away at least some of what happens, but I don’t think I’ll call a spoiler alert.  I don’t give away the end – just a few details from the middle.

Tandy Angel is a teenage girl living a life of wealth and privilege – and cruelty.  Her parents have very high standards for their children.  Though they do reward them lavishly for their successes, they also punish them harshly.  Her parents are demanding, extravagant, controlling, strange, and now dead.  They have been murdered in their bedroom in the family’s exclusive Manhattan townhouse while Tandy and two of her brothers are asleep in their rooms.

The police immediately suspect Tandy and/or her brothers.  The fact that Tandy has been trained by their family therapist to suppress her emotions does not help her case.  She comes across to the police as cold and unfeeling (A fact that would have made her parents proud.)  And to a degree she is.  In fact, Tandy is so good at suppressing that she can’t even be sure she herself is not the killer.  After all, she does have “blanks” in her life –  periods of time she can’t remember…there’s something about a boy, her parents, and an outburst of anger that landed her in a hospital, but it’s all like a faint dream.

To exacerbate  Tandy’s problems, she decides to stop taking her “vitamins.” A portion of the Angel fortune comes from her father’s pharmaceutical company.  For her entire life this company has not only provided her family with an astronomical income, but also with a daily dose of individually customized “vitamins” for each of the Angel children: Tandy with the off-the charts IQ; Harry, her sensitive and artistic twin; her older brother Matt, the NFL superstar with a hot temper; her younger bother Hugo with an equally hot temper, and her sister Catherine, who died a few years before under mysterious circumstances.  Now Tandy is beginning to question a lot of things – including her daily dose of pills.  When she stops taking them, she begins to find it more difficult to suppress her emotions.  She begins to feel more like a typical 16 year old girls.

Still, Tandy presses on, determined to solve the murder of her parents.  Now, earlier I mentioned a spoiler alert.   The truth is, I think this book should come with a spoiler alert, and it should read like this:

This book is not really a murder mystery per se. The primary purpose of this book is to set up a new series of books based on the adventures of  – you guessed it – a teenage detective who got her feet wet solving her parents’ murder. 

Sadly, no such information was given in the book’s inside cover.  I had to read the entire thing to realize this.  Now it isnt’ just that most of the characters, including Tandy Angel, were unlikable and un-relatable. It isn’t just that Patterson used the annoying technique of having the main character address the reader, as in Dear Reader I am not like most girls…   It isn’t even that the ending was a big ol’ let  down (not to mention totally unrealistic).  What I really bothered me about this book, and about so so many of the books I’ve read lately, is that the entire thing was just a big fat prequel.  Patterson leaves nearly every detail, except for how the Angel parents die, unfinished.  Bottom line, the purpose of  this book is to introduce us to Tandy Angel so that we will buy the next book in the Tandy Angel series.  Patterson leaves several loose ends. Will Tandy and her brothers be left destitute?  Will her brother Matt be convicted of killing his girlfriend?  Will she ever be reunited with the mystery boy from her foggy past?  And what was in those pills?

Just like John Grisham did with Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, Patterson cheats us.  I read this book expecting a story with a beginning, and middle, and an end, and I really just got a beginning, and a middle.  I guess that’s how you sell more books.

LANGUAGE

There are a few four letter words in this book, but they weren’t the really bad ones and they aren’t excessive.

VIOLENCE

Not much.  Tandy’s parents are poisoned, so that’s not really violent.  They just keel over.

SEXUAL CONTENT

We find out that both her parents were having affairs.  Matt’s girlfriend reveals an affair with his father, while Tandy discovers the secret lesbian affair her mother has been having with her live-in assistant. None of these affairs are described in any graphic detail.

SUPERNATURAL ELEMENTS

None.  No one even wonders where these awful people are now that they’re dead.

QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS

  • Did you like Tandy? Why or why not?  Did you like her more or less as the novel progressed?  Is it important to like the main character?
  • Did you suspect Tandy might be the killer?
  • In what ways were Maude and Malcolm (Tandy’s parents) good parents?  Were they good parents at all?
  • Think about how many popular books are a part of a series. Why do you think so many author’s these days leave us hanging?   Would you like to read a book that begins and ends a story on one volume, or do you like waiting for the next book to come out?
  • Will you want to read the next book in the Tandy Angel series?
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