Death of the Black Widow: a Book Review

Waaaaaaaaay back in the day I started reading and loving James Patterson. That should tell you something about both our ages… and then JD Barker came along. Y’all have probably read Patterson before. (If not, go right now and pick up an Alex Cross book, starting with Along Came a Spider). JD Barker’s name should also be familiar since I’ve reviewed his books before here and here. (Actually The Noise is another Patterson/Barker joint venture). Reading JD Barker is like reading a roller coaster. He jerks you this way and that, and you think you know what’s going on and then – oh heck, no – he’s turning you yet someplace else until he screeches into the end and you’re left thinking what the heck just happened? Both writers can lure you into a story and keep you there. Together they are a downright crazy combination.

Death of the Black Widow centers around Walter O’Brien’s decades long effort to kill Amy Archer, whom he met when he was just a 22-year-old police rookie. We’ll go with that name, Amy, but she changes monikers and personalities faster than a runway model changes clothes. She also changes her appearance. Really changes it, so that every man sees her as his ideal woman, including Walter. Yes there is a (big) touch of the supernatural in this book, but for some reason the authors make it seem not that farfetched. As the book’s title suggests, Amy kills men she comes close to. Some slowly, by infecting them with cancers. Others die in an instant. She also proves impossible to capture. When Walter and a few cohorts reach the seemingly-insane conclusion that they are dealing with a mass serial killer who thwarts every plot to contain her, they decide killing her is the only way to make it stop.

Alternating between the present and the many years of Walter’s past pursuit, Patterson and Barker pull us through the story at breakneck speed to the final, explosive ending.

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