Family intrigue at its most seamy and dramatic, plus his usual firm grasp of lawyerly tactics and tricks, distinguish Richard North Patterson’s new thriller, Fall from Grace. The former trial lawyer has concocted a fine tale to complement his list of bestsellers stretching back to 1979.

Adam Blaine returns to his family home on Martha’s Vineyard after a decade’s absence; he’s there to join his family in burying their father, an illustrious writer and adventurer who has been killed after a fall from a cliff. The reasons for Adam’s absence and long estrangement from his father emerge slowly over the course of the book, and the effect is like a rolling snowball gathering weight and mass. Patterson’s taut, wired writing reveals one complication after another as family members interact and gradually disclose their secrets.

“There are reasons why we become the way we are, which often aren’t apparent on the surface of our lives."

Ben could have committed suicide, fallen by accident or been pushed to his death—and his family members have a welter of motives. His wife may be victim or catalyst; his brother a sadly demeaned sibling or secret protagonist; his sons loving brothers or pawns in a disjointed rivalry; his lover—the last of a long line—a clever liar or a woman innocent of all except her genuine love for the dead man. Complicating matters, the powerful and charismatic Ben has left behind a recently changed will, with his wife deprived of her rights to the family estate.

As a covert CIA operative whose training ground includes secret ops in Afghanistan, Adam should be the perfect person to untangle the mess. Only trouble is, he’s part of the family history of rivalry and deceit. He is also afraid of the answers he may uncover, ones that will forever change his perception of himself and others close to him.

Patterson is a master storyteller. His narrative appears to be straightforward, but as you continue turning the pages you'll realize he’s hooked you into something much more intricate and complicated. He makes use of his characters' slightest conversational nuance or subtle change of expression, weaving the inconsistencies into a clever, absorbing plot. “There are reasons why we become the way we are, which often aren’t apparent on the surface of our lives,” says Adam at one point. This turns out to be a truth at the heart of this complicated, intriguing book, one that will attract newcomers and longtime Patterson fans alike.

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