Eden in Winter
Richard North Patterson broke onto the fiction scene with the above-average thriller THE LASKO TANGENT in 1978. He really made a name for himself with courtroom thrillers in the wake of John Grisham and Scott Turow reviving that genre during the 1980s and ’90s, and enjoyed great success with novels like DEGREE OF GUILT, THE FINAL JUDGMENT and SILENT WITNESS.
Over the years, Patterson has ventured into other genres, bringing top-notch political, military, hard-boiled and spy thrillers to readers. His reputation secure, he chose to go down a different path. The result is what I refer to as his Cape Cod trilogy. Beginning with FALL FROM GRACE and then continuing with a prequel, LOSS OF INNOCENCE, his latest release brings this series to a fitting culmination.
"While I miss Richard North Patterson's terrific courtroom and military/political dramas, I respect the bold departure he made with this trilogy. It has allowed him not only to reach a new genre of readers but also to flex his literary muscles in the process."
EDEN IN WINTER brings us back to the Blaine family, who are highly reminiscent of the Ewings from “Dallas” if they relocated to Martha’s Vineyard. The first novel featured the final days of a self-absorbed writer and patriarch of the Blaine clan, Benjamin Blaine, who allegedly took his own life by leaping from a cliff to his death rather than lose his life to a debilitating illness.
The middle novel, LOSS OF INNOCENCE, jumped back prior to this event by several decades. Set in the midst of the JFK era in American history, it presented a female protagonist named Whitney Dane who had ties to the Blaine family and laid the foundation for the tragic events that would much later cost Benjamin his life.
EDEN IN WINTER is all about Adam Blaine, Benjamin’s son. He is a journalist who will be required to utilize all of his investigative skills to traverse the murky waters that surround him. This is specifically in the form of the other members of his immediate family and the much younger mistress of his father, Carla Pacelli. There is the usual drama over the will --- but that just scratches the surface.
Meanwhile, a court inquest is casting a suspicious eye on the entire Blaine family as well as on Pacelli. With all at risk of potentially losing out on any claim to Benjamin's estate, many skeletons will be shaken out of closets as no one is to be entirely trusted. Adam uncovers his own family secrets that he wants to keep concealed from the rest of his family. Beginning to have a complex relationship of his own with his late father's mistress will only complicate matters for Adam.
While I miss Richard North Patterson's terrific courtroom and military/political dramas, I respect the bold departure he made with this trilogy. It has allowed him not only to reach a new genre of readers but also to flex his literary muscles in the process.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 18, 2014