It's ho-hum and disappointing but would likely make for a really easy bus read.
The Inn is the fifth collaboration by crime writers James Patterson and Candice Fox. It is their first stand-alone novel as well as their first set outside Australia.
The Inn features former Boston police detective, Bill Robinson, as the world-wearied protagonist, supported by an assortment of kooky Inn residents. Robinson, disgraced by an event that goes unnamed until the last, has been forced into early retirement in the quiet country town of Gloucester, New England. It’s an uneventful seaside town where tourists go in search of peace and quiet and the crime is so low that the town gets along quite well with its inept, donut-loving sheriff. But of course, if things stayed that way, there’d be no story.
Enter one Mitchell Cline, upmarket drug lord intent on spreading his ‘disease’ of addiction far and wide. Robinson lost his wife soon after moving to Gloucester and is now the “Captain” of the rag-tag mob who call his inn home, including the likes of a damaged war veteran, an aged Boston gangster, an ex FBI agent, and a wannabe writer. When teenagers begin to overdose and die in high numbers, including one close to Robinson, he does what any self-respecting crime hero must — take on the bad guy himself. It’s Robinson’s self-appointed duty to protect them all from the evil Cline and with their help, he takes on Cline with everything he’s got. From here, the story is a relentless upward trajectory of increased stakes, higher body counts and vigilantism with really short chapters.
What is mostly a predictable story of tit-for-tat, the good guy versus the bad, is made somewhat interesting through the diverse support cast, a bit of romance, and Robinson’s shady past. But overall, it’s underwhelming. The Inn lacks the depth of the previous Patterson/Fox collaborations that occurs through the ongoing relationship the reader has with recurring cast members. This stand-alone is short (perhaps if chapters filled whole pages they could overcome this!) which leaves little time for anything as trivial as character development. And as already stated, it’s quite predictable right up to the end scene reminiscent of the original Die Hard.
The Inn will likely appeal to readers who love James Patterson, but those who read these collaborations for the Fox input will be sorely disappointed. While it has plenty of big-bang action scenes, it contains but the faintest trace of Fox’s usual quality and wit. It’s ho-hum and disappointing but would likely make for a really easy bus read, or some light entertainment if you’re just wanting to not think.
Reviewed by Samantha Bond
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: August 2019