The Book of James by Ellen J. Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Book Of James by Ellen Green is a tightly crafted story about how much we really know about the people closest to us, in particular, the spouse in a relationship. Mackenzie is married to Nick, and while she feels he keeps his distance from her emotionally as well as with details from his past, she really has no idea how much about Nick she doesn't know. Until she and Nick are involved in a traffic accident which Nick barely survives. Mackenzie was driving the car, and while the accident was in no way her fault, she feels horribly guilty.
Before Nick is wheeled into the operating room to receive surgery to save his life, Nick reveals information to Mac of which she was previously ignorant. He tells her that his family will be a threat to her, although he doesn't get the opportunity to expand on that statement. He also tells her she must visit his childhood home, and that she must look for James. Mac was under the impression from what Nick told her over their 5 year marriage that Nick had no living family members, and she was never told anything about someone named James. Nick dies on the operating table, so any information Mac hoped to get firsthand from Nick dies with him.
Sure enough, after Nick's funeral, Mac receives notification from someone claiming to be Nick's attorney, and her presence is requested in Philadelphia, the location of Nick's family home, to discuss Nick's will. After calling Nick's attorney and being assured he will not discuss any details about Nick over the phone, Mac hastily packs a bag and goes to Philadelphia.
After finding out some staggering information about Nick, Mac decides to spend a longer period of time in Philadelphia to see the ancestral home as well as arranging to meet Nick's mother, Cora Whitfield, who lives in the house Mac considers to be more of a fortress. Mac believes access to the family home and to Cora will help her to solve the mysterious circumstances surrounding Nick's past. What she hadn't counted on was Cora's resistance to any efforts on Mac's part to form a closer relationship. Mac also had no idea just how much of a fortress the family residence turns out to be.
The story continues with Mac trying to get more information about her husband's family while everyone who might help her blocks her every effort. The story has many twists and turns on it's way to a very well done ending I did not expect until I was practically upon it. For me, this book was as close to a perfect mystery as any book in this genre gets. The family story was fascinating as it was revealed, and it was difficult exactly who to pin the label of villain on. About the time I'd settled that issue in my own mind, something else would happen to turn the tables once again. This made it difficult if not impossible to put the book down.
I was given an ARC of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. In my honest opinion this book is an excellent choice for that gift card someone got for Christmas, a great gift for a mystery lover, or a treat-yourself goodie just because you deserve it. I will be looking for more books from Ellen Green. She's become one of my favorite authors.
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