Review: Fifty Fifty (Detective Harriet Blue, #2) by James Patterson & Candice Fox

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Little, Brown & Company | 2018

Filed Under: Don’t write down plans for the murder you’re going to commit

I’ve gone and done it again *said in Kevin Spacey John Doe voice* (if you don’t understand that reference, please leave, watch Se7en and then come back.)

Alright?! OKAY? I admit it! That makes it twice this year I’ve broken my New Year’s resolution to not read any Patterson at all.

I’m weak! I have issues. I need a 12-step program for letting shit go; for being okay with not knowing. It’s really my worst quality as a human being. My mental health agrees.

But whatever. It’s done. I read it. So, here’s the review.

CONTENT! *does jazz hands*

While I didn’t necessarily think this book was anything amazing, I have to say, I can see Candice Fox all over the writing in this book and that makes it infinitely better than most Patterson publications. The chapters are still short, the content shallow and a lot of moments are overly dramatic, but the actual prose felt more mature, unlike what I’d typically classify Patterson writing as. Read: juvenile.

If you read the first book in the series, you know Det. Harriet Blue is a woman with intense baggage that usually, if not always, comes out as unstoppable anger with a very short-fuse. Her brother, Sam, has been arrested for his serial killer pastimes, though he claims innocence. Harriet is the only one who believes him.

In typical Patterson style, there are duelling storylines. But, in a more refined Fox style, these storylines exist to facilitate Harriet’s character development and the series progression. The plot felt layered for purpose, instead of jumble for drama (*cough Women’s Murder Club cough.*)

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After another outburst of anger, Harriet is put in timeout – sent to a small town of fewer than 100 people to investigate a notebook that may or may not be a hoax. It details plans to kill the entire town by mass murder. Meanwhile, there’s a girl held captive by the real serial killer Sam Blue is accused of being. And this motherfucker is not happy that someone else is getting the credit that rightfully belongs to him.

That’s when you know you’re actually totally crazy. I killed those people! Credit me with those murders!

That, or wanting to build a moat filled with snakes and alligators around a country’s border and shooting innocent people in the legs. If you think something like that is a good idea, you may also be a soulless insane monster *sips tea.*

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Fifty Fifty was definitely better than most Patterson books that I’ve read lately, but it wasn’t anything that will change my mind about him being my arch-nemesis.

Harriet, as a character, is kind of grating to read and the things that she perpetrates on others, or that are inflicted on her, border on being just completely ridiculous. She reminds me of a Bill Burr joke in his new special Paper Tiger. His wife asks him how he can be so quick to anger, saying he goes 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye. He says it’s because he’s constantly entering every situation at 75.

That’s Harriet. This bitch has no chill.

For me, there is never a moment in the book where she displays a genuine personality. She’s always at 75. Who she is as a person is clouded by anger and situations written to allow her to display that anger. I don’t do well with characters like that because it comes across as a put-on, instead of a real, layered personality that has complicated reactions to things in order to weave an intense personal plot. Harriet is emotionally shallow and seemingly written to be intentionally “edgy.”

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There is no subtlety to her character that would allow for a sincere personality. Instead, she is clearly manufactured because the writing is trying so so hard and it ends up being silly at times.

In terms of the genre, I thought the storylines were interesting but lacked suspense overall, but it’s probably going to read to Patterson fans like one of his better books.

If I can get my “let it go” issue under control, this will probably be the end of my time with Harriet Blue, but honestly, it’s probably more likely that I’m full of shit.


It’s not easy being a good detective – when your brother’s a serial killer.

Sam Blue stands accused of the brutal murders of three young students, their bodies dumped near the Georges River. Only one person believes he is innocent: his sister, Detective Harriet Blue. And she’s determined to prove it.

Except she’s now been banished to the outback town of Last Chance Valley (population 75), where a diary found on the roadside outlines a shocking plan – the massacre of the entire town. And the first death, shortly after Harry’s arrival, suggests the clock is already ticking.

Meanwhile, back in Sydney, a young woman holds the key to crack Sam’s case wide open.

If only she could escape the madman holding her hostage . . .

3 thoughts on “Review: Fifty Fifty (Detective Harriet Blue, #2) by James Patterson & Candice Fox

  1. I’ll admit I’ve been wanting to read more James Patterson recently, most of my experience with his books are co-writes so I’m curious as to why you made this new year’s resolution? Harriet is definitely a difficult and often unlikeable character but I did like how Fifty Fifty ended plot wise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really comes down to this: I think Patterson is a terrible writer. He’s so so successful, and co-writes everything now to be able to pump out dozens of books a year to keep the money coming, but in terms of the art, I just think he’s a bad writer and I don’t want to give my attention to that lol. But they are fast, easy books so despite the resolution, I fail to hold to it again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah that’s fair enough; I don’t really consider his books masterpieces they really are just entertaining reads I suppose. And it’s actually insane how many books a year he can release with all the cowrites?!


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