Fall from Grace

Fall from Grace

3.5 48
by Richard North Patterson

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The mysteriously violent death of a prominent New England patriarch exposes a nest of dark family secrets in bestselling author Richard North Patterson’s twentieth page-turning novel.

The mysterious, violent death of a prominent New England patriarch exposes a nest of dark family secrets in bestselling author Richard North Patterson’s twentieth


The mysteriously violent death of a prominent New England patriarch exposes a nest of dark family secrets in bestselling author Richard North Patterson’s twentieth page-turning novel.

The mysterious, violent death of a prominent New England patriarch exposes a nest of dark family secrets in bestselling author Richard North Patterson’s twentieth compelling novel.

Adam Blaine arrives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard to attend the funeral of his estranged father, Ben Blaine, a famous and charismatic writer who has served as patriarch of his clan for many years. A man fond of sailboats, good wine, and women other than his wife, Ben Blaine has left behind a string of secrets in addition to an emotionally distraught widow and his strangely aloof mistress, Carla Pacelli, a beautiful television actress who once had a drug problem.

As soon as Adam arrives, he discovers that Ben has disinherited his mother, uncle, and brother in favor of his lover, and begins to wonder if his father’s death—caused by an inexplicable fall from a cliff—might be murder. Using his training as a CIA operative, Adam skillfully seeks to obscure the evidence suggesting that a family member may have killed his father, while at the same time fighting to undo the will, which favors the enigmatic Carla. As he walks this tightrope, Adam risks his freedom and perhaps his life, even as he unearths increasingly disturbing family secrets never meant to be discovered, and which cause him to question his understanding of his own life and everyone around him—his beloved mother, uncle, and brother and, not least, Carla.

Filled with tight psychological intrigue that will keep readers guessing until the very last page, Fall from Grace confirms that “Richard North Patterson is one of the best in the business” (Time).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Legal questions hang on every twist and turn of this tightly woven nonlegal thriller, bestseller Patterson’s best novel since 2009’s Eclipse. After 10 years away from home, Adam Blaine returns to Martha’s Vineyard after his estranged father, world-famous writer Benjamin Blaine, is found dead at the bottom of a high promontory overlooking the sea. Survivors include Adam’s mother, Clarice; his gay brother, Teddy; his old girlfriend, Jenny Leigh; and his father’s movie star girlfriend, Carla Pacelli, all of whom had reason to have shoved Ben off the cliff. Ben’s recently amended will leaves million to Carla, million to Jenny, and ,000 to Adam, who’s also named the executer of the estate. Clarissa and Teddy inherit nothing. The mysterious Adam, who’s ostensibly working for an agriculture company in Afghanistan, must figure out who killed Ben and break the will. Readers will enjoy unraveling the tangled mystery alongside Adam right up until the last revelation. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“A skillfully plotted murder mystery ripe withtwisted, painful family dynamics, as readable and rewarding as Mr. Patterson’sforays into more dangerous corners of the world. Fall from Grace is anexcellent read, an exciting mystery and character study.” -Vineyard Gazette

Fall from Grace is a stunning tale of betrayal and love—family members torn apart as the possible murder of the patriarch, whose power and prestige have dominated for decades, unravels secrets and scandals against the dramatic backdrop of the unforgiving Vineyard landscape. Richard North Patterson delivers thrilling suspense every time.”

—Linda Fairstein, author of Silent Mercy

The Devil’s Light will grab you from the very first page and never let go. Patterson’s amazing storytelling is made all the better by his emotionally complex characters. I was intrigued.”
—Kathy Reichs, #1 New York Times best-selling author of 206 Bones

“Richard North Patterson is a terrific novelist.” —The Washington Post

“Readers…will be dazzled by [Patterson’s] depth of knowledge." -The New York Times

“Patterson has redefined himself as a writer willing to take risks.” —USA Today

Kirkus Reviews
Taut thriller from accomplished attorney-turned-mysterian Patterson (In the Name of Honor, 2010, etc.) set on the familiar turf of Martha's Vineyard. There, on that Massachusetts island, Adam Blaine has an uneasy homecoming after ten years of self-imposed exile—or perhaps not self-imposed, since a difficult dad, encrusted with literary fame and exuding the highest of expectations, did his part to drive Adam off. Well, Dad has pitched off a cliff, and Adam, the shadowiest of CIA ops, is back for a funeral that has a hard time coming together, given that the paterfamilias has seemingly disowned his wife and offspring in favor of a glossy mistress. But did he do so? Was his death an accident? Did said Jezebel set up Pops to cash in on the will? And who would want such an entertaining bon vivant dead in the first place? Adam busies himself reconnecting à la Grosse Pointe Blank with old chums and more, most alluring among them one Jenny Leigh, who seems "to carry a separateness, as though creating her own space." Well, on an island everyone knows everyone's business, and lines of affinity, elective and otherwise, get very tight and tangled. As he strolls the sands, Adam turns up clues, from a photographic album of Ben Blaine in Southeast Asia way back when to the muffled murmurings of the locals about strange doings under the covers. Patterson carefully works the territory that lies between nostalgia (no one on the island can forget Adam's big game against Nantucket) and the burning desire to get the heck out of Dodge, layering on plenty of local color without overdoing it. In the end, our super-spy assembles clues enough to convince him that old Ben probably didn't just slip and tumble off the promontory, but instead was helped along. But by whom? Therein lies the mystery, with a resolution that Patterson skillfully hides until the very end. Seascapes full of red herrings, seaside cottages full of secrets—all good fun, and a most satisfying whodunit.

Product Details

Publication date:
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6.28(w) x 9.04(h) x 1.08(d)

Read an Excerpt


Sliding into the taxi, Adam Blaine told the cabbie where to drop him, and resumed his moody contemplation of his father.

The driver, a woman in her fifties, stole a glance at him in the rearview mirror. Though it was his practice in such proximity to be pleasant, Adam remained quiet. The past consumed him: he had returned to Martha’s Vineyard, the home he had once loved, for the first time in a decade. Benjamin Blaine had made this possible by dying.

Leaving the airport, they took the road to Edgartown, passing woods and fields on both sides. At length, the driver said, “Forgive me, but aren’t you related to Benjamin Blaine, the novelist?”

For a moment, Adam wished that he could lie. “I’m Adam. His son.”

The woman nodded. “I saw you play basketball in high school. Even then you looked just like him.”

It was inescapable, Adam knew: for the rest of his life, he would look in the mirror and see a man he loathed. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” the woman continued quietly. “I drove him to the airport several times. Such a vigorous, handsome man, so full of life. To die like that is tragic.”

Was it tragic for his mother, Adam wondered, or would release from Ben Blaine’s dark vortex be an unspoken mercy? “It was certainly a shock,” he responded. But not as much of a shock, he thought to himself, as the last time I saw him.

Understanding none of this, the driver said sympathetically, “I guess you came back for the funeral—I can’t remember seeing you in years. Where do you make your home now?”

“Everywhere and nowhere.” Adam paused, then deployed his usual cover story. “I’m an agricultural consultant in the third world, helping farmers improve their growing practices. Right now I’m in Afghanistan, on contract with the government.”

Her eyes in the mirror were curious and perplexed. “Doing what, exactly?”

Adam chose a tone that implied his own bemusement. “The project’s a little peculiar. I survey land, and try to encourage the locals to consider growing something other than poppies. In Afghanistan, the Taliban turns opium into guns.”

Her face darkened. “That sounds dangerous.”

Adam kept his voice casual. “Maybe, if it weren’t so dumb. It’s a dangerous place, it’s true, but I’m well below soldiers and spooks on the hierarchy of risk. Why would the Taliban kill a hapless American on a hopeless mission? I’d be a waste of bullets.”

Quiet now, the driver steered them through the outskirts of town. When they reached the church, the doors were shut. “I hope you haven’t missed the service,” she said.

Adam wondered if this mattered. In his heart, he had buried his father ten years ago. But his presence might help three people he deeply loved cope with their ambivalence. Though all had suffered at the hands of Benjamin Blaine, they lacked Adam’s clarity of mind.

“I imagine I’ll make the eulogy,” he said, and handed the woman an extra twenty. “Can you drop my suitcase at the Blaine house?”

“Jack, or Ben?”

“Ben. Do you remember where it is?”

The driver nodded. “Sure.”

Adam thanked her and got out. For a moment he gazed at the Old Whaling Church, absorbing the strangeness of his return. The deep blue sky of a flawless summer day framed the church, an imposing Greek revival with stone pillars and an ornate clock tower, all painted a pristine white. Along with the redbrick courthouse beside it, the church was the focal point of Edgartown, a place Adam thought of as the quintessential New England theme park—picket fences, manicured lawns, white wooden homes built in the 1800s. Though the church was now a performing arts center, it was the only place of worship on Martha’s Vineyard, past or present, which could accommodate the hundreds of people who wished to honor a famous man. Had he foreseen his death, Benjamin Blaine would have chosen it himself.

A policeman guarded the door. On the steps reporters or curiosity seekers had clustered, perhaps eager for a glimpse of the statesmen, writers, actors, and athletes who counted themselves as Ben’s friends. Standing taller, Adam strode toward them. He even moved like his father, he remembered people saying, with his father’s grace and vigor. As he reached the steps, the curse of their resemblance struck again.

“Adam Blaine?” A young woman blocked his path, her look of birdlike alertness accentuated by quick, jerky movements of her head. “I’m Amanda Ferris of the National Enquirer.”

Despite his annoyance, Adam almost laughed in her face—this must be a slow week for Brad and Angelina, or the supposed progeny of Venusians and sub-Saharan adolescents. Instead, Adam brushed past her, ignoring her shrill question, “How do you feel about the circumstances of your father’s death?”

“I’m Adam Blaine,” he told the burly policeman at the center door, and stepped inside.

The interior was as Adam remembered it, bright and airy, its tall windows on three sides admitting shafts of light. As softly as he could, he walked down the center aisle toward the front, glimpsing the varied players in Benjamin Blaine’s restless and protean life—a human rights activist from the Sudan; a veteran war correspondent; a retired Spanish bullfighter; an ex-president; a TV anchor; a young black man whose college education was a gift from Ben; the islanders, a more modest group, many of whom had known Ben all his life. Some of the latter, noting him, registered surprise at his presence. Adam nodded at a few—his old basketball coach, a teacher from third grade—all the while wishing that he could disappear. In the decade of his absence, he had learned to dislike standing out.

Reaching the first pew, he spotted his mother between his uncle, Jack, and brother, Teddy. He paused, glancing at the casket, then slid between Clarice Blaine and his brother. His mother remained almost perfect in appearance, Adam thought—the refined features, sculpted nose, and composed expression of an East Coast patrician, her blond hair now brightened by artifice. As he gave her a brief kiss on the cheek, her blue eyes filled with gratitude, and she clasped his hand. Then Adam felt Teddy grasp his shoulder.

Inclining his head toward his brother, Adam caught the complex smile on Teddy’s sensitive face—fondness for Adam, bemusement at their circumstances. “Can you believe he’s in there?” Teddy whispered. “I’m still afraid this is a prank.”

Silent, Adam stared at the burnished coffin, the white cloth cover filigreed with gold. However richly Benjamin Blaine deserved the hatred of both sons, the enormity of his death was difficult to absorb—a man in his sixties, still ravenous for life, cut short in so strange a way. How many times, Adam wondered, had Teddy wished aloud to him for this moment? Yet its reality left Adam with the fruitless, painful wish that he and his father had been different, that he could feel the ache of love and loss instead of this wrenching bitterness, the painful question Why? for which no answer could suffice. He was back, Adam realized, and once more Benjamin Blaine had shattered his illusions. Adam had not resolved their past.

Nor would this service from the Book of Common Prayer, the touchstone of Clarice Blaine’s heritage, provide balm for her sons’ souls. “The trouble with Protestant funerals,” a colleague had remarked to Adam after the murder of a friend, “is that they offer no catharsis.” But for his mother the familiar ritual, that with which she had buried both her parents, might spread the gloss of decorum over the deeper truths of her marriage.

Standing near the casket, a young Episcopal priest recited the Burial of the Dead:

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord;

he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;

and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. . . .

Adam believed none of it. In his recent experience, death was random, ugly, and very final, all too often the work of men whose God commanded these acts. That world, like this service, offered no transcendence. His only comfort was that the survivors loved one another, and now might find some peace.

Adam glanced at his mother, then his brother, trying to read their faces. Clarice wore her public expression, a mask of dignity she used to conceal more complicated feelings. But Teddy’s dark eyes, cast now at the polished wooden floor, seemed to hold some anguished memory. At whatever age, Adam knew, some part of us is always a child, feeling pleasure at a parent’s love or the wounds of a parent’s disdain. The man inside the coffin had wounded Teddy long ago, too deeply to forget. From beneath the drone of the service, a memory of their father surfaced unbidden, as much about Teddy as Adam.

It was from that final summer, meant to be a bridge between Adam’s first and second years at law school, after which life would become too serious to savor the days of sun and sea and wind so evocative of his youth. The summer that instead transformed Adam’s life completely.

At the helm of his sailboat, Ben grinned with sheer love of the Vineyard waters, looking younger than his fifty-five years, his thick silver-flecked black hair swept back by a stiff headwind. To Adam, he resembled a pirate: a nose like a prow, bright black eyes that could exude anger, joy, alertness, or desire. He had a fluid grace of movement, a physicality suited to rough seas; in profile there was a hatchetlike quality to his face, an aggression in his posture, as though he were forever thrusting forward, ready to take the next bite out of life. “When Benjamin Blaine walks into a room,” Vanity Fair had gushed, “he seems to be in Technicolor, and everyone else in black and white.” As a boy, Adam had wanted nothing more than to be like him.

On this day, Adam enjoyed his father’s enthusiasm for his classic wooden sailboat. “Well into this century,” Ben had explained when he taught the eight-year-old Adam to sail, “the Herreshoff brothers designed eight consecutive defenders of the America’s Cup. They built boats like this for the richest, most sophisticated families of their time—the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys. I bought this one from your grandfather Barkley.” His voice lowered, to impress on Adam the import of his next words. “To own one is a privilege, but to race one—as you someday will—is a joy. I mean for you to learn the primal joy of winning.”

On this sail with Adam, fifteen years later, Ben was preparing for racing season yet again, his lust for competition unstanched. “This is the best thing in the world,” he exclaimed. “Even better than hunting deer. Are you ever going to try that with me?”

Adam adjusted the mainsail, catching the wind as it shifted. “I doubt it.”

Ben shot him a look of displeasure. “You’re too much like your mother, Adam. But in this family you’re the only game in town.”

At once, Adam caught the reference. However demanding their father could sometimes be with Adam, for years Ben had treated Teddy less like a son than an uninvited guest who, to Ben’s surprise and displeasure, kept showing up for dinner. But the role of favorite by default no longer gave Adam pleasure. “So Teddy’s not like us,” he rejoined. “So what? I can’t paint, and neither can you. Only Teddy got that gene.”

“Among others,” Ben said flatly.

As Ben steered them starboard, gaining speed, Adam felt his own tension, years of too many retorts stifled. “Welcome to the twenty-first century,” he replied. “Has it ever occurred to you that Teddy being gay is no different from you and I being left-handed? No wonder he never comes home.” He paused, then ventured more evenly, “Someday people won’t read you anymore. You’ll be left with whoever is left to love you. It’s not too late for Teddy to be one of them.”

Unaccustomed to being challenged, Ben stared at him. “I know it’s supposed to be genetic. So call me antediluvian, if you like. But genetics gave me a firstborn who feels like a foundling.” His voice slowed, admitting a regretful note. “You like the things I like. Teddy never did. He didn’t want to fish or sail or hunt or enjoy a day like this, God’s gift to man. When I wanted someone to toss around a baseball with, you were like a puppy, eager to play. Not Teddy. He just gave me one of his looks.”

“Did you ever care about what Teddy liked?” Adam paused, then came to the hard truth he too often felt. “Do you love me for me, Dad, or because I’m more like you than he is?”

Ben’s face closed, his pleasure in the day vanishing. “We’re not the same person, for sure. But we’re alike in ways that seem important. Think of me what you will, but I desire women. I’ve seen almost everything the world contains—wars, poverty, cruelty, heroism, grace, children starving to death, and women treated like cattle or sold into sexual slavery. There’s almost nothing I can’t imagine. But one thing I can’t imagine is you looking at a man the way you look at Jenny. Teddy sees a man and imagines him naked, lying on his stomach. Assuming,” Ben finished, “that Teddy is even the protagonist of that particular act.”

In his anger, Adam resolved to say the rest. “I’ve always loved Teddy,” he replied coldly, “and always will. But given how you feel about him, it’s a good thing that he’s in New York. And given how I feel about that, it might be good for you to remember that I’m the son you’ve got left.”

Ben gave him a level look, deflecting the challenge. “He’s in New York for now,” he said at length. “It’s where artists go to fail. Inside him, Teddy carries the seed of his own defeat. My guess is that he’ll slink back here, like Jack did. The larger world was a little too large for him.”

Listening, Adam marveled at the casual ease with which Ben had slipped in his disdain for his older brother. “Just who is it that you do respect, Dad?”

“Many people,” Ben answered. “But in this family?” He paused, regarding Adam intently. “You, Adam. At least to a point.”

Staring at his father’s coffin, Adam wished that he had never learned what that point was. In kinship, he placed his hand on Teddy’s shoulder.

Meet the Author

Richard North Patterson is the author of The Devil’s Light, In the Name of Honor, The Spire, and sixteen other bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. Formerly a trial lawyer, he was the SEC liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor and has served on the boards of several Washington advocacy groups. He lives in Martha's Vineyard, San Francisco, and Cabo San Lucas with his wife.

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Fall from Grace 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Kataman1 More than 1 year ago
This is a book were you plod along and wait for something to happen and very little does. Adam Blaine is a covert government agent working on an assignment in Afghanistan and is called home because his father (Ben) has died. Adam abruptly left 10 years prior and hadn't spoken to his father since. He finds that his father either fell, was pushed or committed suicide from a cliff. The police highly suspect foul play and their prime suspect is Adam's brother Teddy. Adam is mysteriously selected the executor of the estate and a new will has cut off Ben's wife (Clarice) and Teddy. Additionally the will has left most of Ben's estate to his mistress (Carla) and smaller amounts to Adam's ex-girlfriend (Jenny) and to Adam himself. As Adam apparently hates his father and doesn't care how he died, he is also fearful for Teddy and wants to clear him of all charges. Therefore he decides to open his own investigation. This is just at the beginning of the book. The rest of the book moves at a snail's pace and you keep expecting Adam to get into a battle or something based on his training but this never happens. All the people involved are very "dark" and the most "dark" is Adam himself. It seems like Adam has all the feelings of a stone. The reader never really cares for the characters, even when the author reveals how each character became the way they are it does not change the reader's opinion. The author's style also sometimes gets in the way and the overuse of flashbacks gets annoying. There were also some inconsistancies is the story that I noticed and this could be because it was an uncorrected proof. Most of these inconsistancies did not detract from the story (I seemed to be confused when Adam was playing the last hole in a round of golf with Ben as it seemed like it said that Ben put his ball 10 yards past Adam's. Then they later tee-off on the hole so did Ben tee off 10 yards in front of Adam or did they replay the hole?). Anyway, by the time we learn what actually happened on the cliff the reader really doesn't care (I guess we become like Adam) Also, it seems to have been taken more from a soap opera plot than real life. Further, how Adam is able to obtain information from the DA's office seemed to be like something you would expect from an episode of Desperate Housewives. I barely give this one 3 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this novel. Plot twists were telegraphed far in advance, there were no surprises. I kept thinking "there has to be more than this". There wasn't. I have read all of Patterson's previous novel's, I'm not so sure that I will be reading his future works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No excitment or action worth caring about. That also goes for the characters. Adam's life as a CIA agent would have been more interesting and ex citing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy books by this author but this was one book I could not put down and could not wait to finish-while wishing it would not end
JacksonvilleReader More than 1 year ago
Fall From Grace returned to Patterson's writing style that I have enjoyed for years. His past few books have been disappointing--to the point of not finishing one! But I thoroughly enjoyed Fall From Grace and finished reading in 2 days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1)Plods along. 2)Too many plot twists to make it realistic. 3)Annoying from the point of view that the character Ben is always (and repeatedly) talking about the qualities of a good writer but the author truly fails to deliver.
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robertpe More than 1 year ago
I read this book because I read its predecessor loss of innocense. Loss was great story unfortunately I found Grace not as good. Its too much of a whodunit than continuation of the great characters that were developed in loss of innocense. Again...not bad but I thought it would have been a bit different or better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Complex,riveting. You become invested in the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good writer
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jharding More than 1 year ago
A real page turner as Patterson does it again.
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jake9 More than 1 year ago
reading the reviews for decision making and noticied that anonymous appears to be the only respondant who enjoted this book!!!!!!
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