Eden in Winter concludes Patterson’s trilogy focused on the Blaine family of Martha’s Vineyard. In all honesty, I read the first in the series (Fall from Grace) in 2012, but somehow missed the second installment. Not sure if this affected my appraisal of this one, but really, I think in a series like this, it would be ideal if each book could stand on its own, and in this case perhaps an initial recap to bring new readers up to speed could then be followed by the “new stuff.”

However, that isn’t how this one (which I received in exchange for an honest review) works! When this one opens, the protagonist, Adam Blaine, has returned home following the death of his father, the world-famous novelist Benjamin Blaine, from whom he has been estranged for years. If this series is a roman a clef, I am not in the loop enough to pick that up, so apologies if this is the case…

So, Adam has been off doing his thing (CIA) in Afghanistan, and when the book opens, there is an investigation to determine Ben’s cause of death. Apparently, there is a list of potential assistants more than willing to assist Ben to his death, although the scene looks at first like an accidental fall from a high wall.

We are soon to realize that Adam knows it was murder, and he knows the killer. But, as you might expect in a multigenerational saga of betrayals, infidelity and abuse, Adam decides to protect the murderer, using his special CIA tradecraft skills.

It seems Ben has left almost his entire estate to Carla Pacelli, a young actress who happens to be recuperating on the island after a stint in rehab, and she is pregnant with Ben’s child. The creepy meter began when Adam and Carla develop an attraction to one another, and Adam realizes he has some Daddy issues, but the budding romance is designed to make Adam and Carla more likeable.

Seems like a struggle for Patterson to make this long saga of an unhappy family into a believable psychological drama by having Adam consult a local therapist, who works with him on the whole Oedipal thing, and reveals lots of betrayals, infidelities, class struggle, abuse – yikes.

I suspect this would be greatly appreciated by fans of the first two in the series, but looking at it as a standalone novel, I suspect it is just overly complex, with stilted dialogue and situations as Patterson works to explain how everyone is related (by birth and situationally) to everyone else. It was an enjoyable read, but I have to admit I usually REALLY enjoy Patterson’s legal dramas and was a bit disappointed not to have more courtroom-based action. I found I was a bit relieved when it was all over. If you like psychological examinations of families that will make you feel something along the lines of “wow, my family isn’t as screwed up as I thought we were,” this one is for you!