Book Review: Fifty Fifty, by James Patterson and Candice Fox

In this sequel to “Never Never”, Harriet Blue is relegated to another outback town where she must choose betwen saving her brother or saving the whole town.

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She’s back. Harriet “Harry” Blue: Terror at five foot two.

In the sequel to the bestselling Never Never, penned by international thriller writer James Patterson and Australia’s newest Queen of Crime, Candice Fox, Harry is back and gutsier than ever.

The end of Never Never saw Harry determined to clear her brother, Sam Blue, of charges of serial murder. But things don’t go to plan for Harry when her temper gets the better of her at the start of Fifty Fifty, and she is once again relegated to the Australian outback. Last Chance Valley (population 75) is a dot on the red dirt map, but it’s also the target of a murderer. A diary found on the roadside outlines a shocking plan to massacre the entire town and, with the first death occurring shortly after Harry’s arrival, the clock is already ticking. Harry has a choice: she can save her brother, or she can save a whole town.

Meanwhile, a young woman back in Sydney holds the key to clearing Sam’s name. If only she could escape from the madman holding her hostage.

Fifty Fifty is one heck of a page-turner. The tension starts high and only increases with the relentless action. The dual plotlines of Sam Blue’s case and the plot to destroy the town weave in and out beautifully. Harry is torn between doing what is right and wanting to save her brother. Her resilience, tenacity and no-nonsense attitude are at war with her deeply buried softer side, and this story brings out that character development wonderfully.

Also along for the ride are her partners from Never Never, Ed ‘Whit’ Whittacker and favourite side-kick, “Tox” from the prequel, Black and Blue. Readers who’ve followed Harry’s story with the previous stories will take great pleasure in the return of these two characters awkwardly paired to assist Sam. Harry’s new partner “Kash”, a member of the Federal Police investigating the massacre plan from a terrorism point of view, also provides a nice modern slant on the ongoing terrorism issue – not to mention a battle for supremacy with Harry over the small town investigation.

True to what was established in Never Never, the sequel features an iconic Australian outback setting that’s sure to appeal to Aussie city slickers and the international market alike. One can virtually feel the expansive isolation and dry heat emanating from these red dirt pages.

Ultimately, this is a James Patterson branded series. His direct, plot-driven style is quite evident in Fifty Fifty, but it marries well with Candice Fox’s more analytical character writing. It’s not as deep as Fox’s standalone writing, but it’s still a fast-paced, fun and gripping crime read. Fans of either writer or the fledgling series will not be disappointed. And without giving anything away, oh what an ending…

Reviewed by Samantha Bond
Twitter: @SamStaceyBond

Rating out of 10:  9

Released by: Penguin Australia
Release Date: July 2017
RRP: $32.99 trade paperback, $12.99 eBook

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