Bloody Valentine - Book Review
Jame Patterson's Bloody Valentine - a review
“Killing isn’t murder when it’s necessary.”
After the blood curdling screams from serial killers like Gary Soneji, Casanova and the notorious Jack and Jill, the world renowned writer returns with a spine tingler that’s sure to make any couple grateful for their Valentine’s day experiences. Yes, he’s back…James Patterson. With a new thriller entitled ‘Bloody Valentine,’ but it’s not all fine wine and red roses this year…
Oh no. A grisly undercoating of fear topped with terror, now that’s what makes a Patterson novel, and this one is no different (despite being a short story). Jack Barnes, a wealthy and successful owner of a chain of restaurants, with his pregnant wife Zee, live comfortably in their safe haven in a London penthouse. Let’s wake up to an array of red, and the foreboding scenery when Zee’s character is introduced, it is sure to leave us shivering until we realise…it was a simple romantic gesture of breakfast in bed.
With his skilful writing techniques, the audience is left in the barren abyss that is the unknown. So, the introduction as all fans of Paterson would know, he tends to give us a taste of the killer’s character at the very beginning – the symbolism here is evident of someone ready to kill, but are they? Yes, the macabre sense of being dressed all in black leaves us thinking that we need to prepare for a funeral service very shortly. But the sound of London’s traffic leaves me to ponder, what if this is the true mental reflection of the killer’s instability? This black shadow reflected in the mirror has no identity; could this be the separation of the mind set between the real identity behind the mask and killer?
Anyway… after a lovely insight into the killer’s mind, we move to the residents of Jack’s building. First is Jack’s brother and his girlfriend, Michael and Anni, and Jack’s two sisters Layla and Mamie. Yet it’s apparent that although they all live in the same building, but they don’t really know much about Zee herself. Next, let’s meet the porters of the building, Damion, but more importantly, we are introduced to Ted – who was offered the job as a porter via Zee’s suggestion because they were friends a lifetime ago.
Yet, Zee and Ted seemed to have something going themselves – but it’s mentioned exactly what or how far their relationship has delved. One of the greater mysteries we’re left with, especially towards the end of the book, I guess that it’s one of the joys of pragmatic conversation. Their conversation is muted pretty much throughout the whole way, so who knows how they actually interact – but it’s suggested by certain members of the Barnes family of Zee’s infidelity, amongst her other flaws.
Now what could be more interesting than a suggestive a love triangle? Answer: a murder. Finally, the time has come. Zee goes shopping on a nice sunny day; a sense of pathetic fallacy here is almost ironic because of what is to come next… The un-acceptance of Jack’s family really adds tension to Zee’s character, who wants to prove her love for Jack. So on the subject of hearts; let’s turn to the scene of the crime. The effective use of onomatopoeia ‘crack… thrust… snap’ when Zee is being stabbed, really makes the stomach churn. Although not as much as the aftermath of it all, when our unknown killer proceeds to then snap her ribs open and remove her heart, whole. Filleting knife or carving knife? The inexperience is ever present in us, but not for our smart killer.
We get a real sense of Zee’s death with the way Patterson cleverly manipulates words into becoming vivid images in which the mind’s eye can feast upon, ‘Zee’s eyes dulled. Gradually, they lost the brightness of life.’
The killer’s goal has been accomplished. Now let’s throw in some evidence: some bloodied knives, some bloodied clothes and someone with no alibi…the killer’s identity is obvious no?
Throughout the book, the use of techniques as mentioned above really helps to bring the characters to life – unfortunately that can’t be said for some. A mysterious past, a previous murder and a killer intent on hurting Jack Barnes. Right at the heart, so to speak.
The one thing I find hard to stomach is not the murder itself, but the way in which Patterson writes how the killer is captured. I appreciate that this is a short story but to me it felt too rushed. Why don’t we find the killer in denial or with some sort of constructed alibi? But with all this aside, Patterson sure gives us a lot of material to weave into our own pieces as writers. I myself have used his triadic structures and vivid descriptions in my own writing many a time, and I’m sure that I will carry on to do so. Furthermore, I often find myself using his knack of short sentences to build tension a fun little thing to add to my pieces.
Here we have everything needed for a perfect murder, making February 14th a little less traditional this year with blood and killers galore. So unto the readers, I leave you with this: Even if you believe killing would benefit more people than it would hurt, don’t go stabbing your partner…
Happy Valentine’s Day.